NEW Zealand has failed to capitalise on a strong start in the first cricket test against India in Hyderabad today.
India won the toss and put themselves into bat, reaching 307-5 at stumps, not a huge lead, but more than the Black Caps would have wanted after their promising early efforts.
With superstars Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman having hung up their whites, and Sachin Tendullkar back in the shed after being done over by Trent Boult for 19, things were looking good.
However Cheteshwar Pujara stepped into some big shoes, nailing his maiden test century and finishing the first day on 119 not out.
Batting at No 3, he batted all but the first 10 overs of the day, and was harsh on the bowlers in a poor first hour after tea.
Skipper MS Dhoni ended the day with him on 29.
Capitalising on early swing, Boult nicked out Gautam Gambhir, then smashed Tendulkar’s stumps with a stunning inswinger.
That proved to be the high point of the day however, with India cruising from 125-3, with Pujara and Virat Kohli adding 125 for the fourth wicket in the 33degC afternoon heat.
Recalled spinner Jeetan Patel helped stem the flow, but with Doug Bracewell, who accounted for Virender Sehwag, limping off with cramps in his 11th over, it left James Franklin as the third seam option.
Neil Wagner and Tim Southee weren’t in the side.
Chris Martin broke the deadlock with Kohli’s wicket for 58, and Patel strangled Suresh Raina down the leg side, before Pujara and Dhoni saw the hosts safely through to stumps.
Twice edges flew between captain Ross Taylor at first slip and keeper Kruger van Wyk, and the skipper also missed a sharp chance off Dhoni early in his innings, adding to the New Zealand disappointment.