Wellington, Feb 23 (IANS) Mayank Agarwal struck a gritty half century but New Zealand held on to their driver’s seat by removing Cheteshwar Pujara in the final ball before tea to leave India at 78/2, still trailing them by 105 runs, on the third day of the first Test at the Basin Reserve here on Sunday.
Agarwal was on 52 from 81 balls (6×4, 1×6) at the break. The Karnataka opener, who looked good in the first innings also, swept Ajaz Patel for a four to bring up his 50 in 75 balls.
The hosts rode their tail-enders good show to take a 183-run lead after they were bowled out for 348 in the first innings replying to India’s paltry 165. Batting second, India lost Prithvi Shaw early, the young opener set up by Trent Boult who dig one in from round the wicket, which left the right-hander surprised and fending for it. Tom Latham, at short backward square leg, took a diving catch to his left to remove him.
Agarwal and Pujara then shared a patient 51-run stand before the latter, who took 81 balls for his 11, wasted all the hard work to leave a sharply seaming in Boult delivery which knocked off his off stump. It was the final ball before tea and one that left India in their hunches once again after the pair looked like seeing off the hard hour to dig deep and get their act together.
Earlier, senior most pacer Ishant Sharma took five wickets but debutant Kyle Jamieson continued to hog the limelight with a rapid cameo as New Zealand were all out for 348.
The towering Jamieson hit 44 off 45 balls (1×4, 4×6) as all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (43 off 74b; 5×4) also chipped in to help the hosts stretch their lead. The pair shared a 71-run stand for the eighth wicket.
Resuming on 216/5, 51 runs ahead of India’s paltry first innings score of 165, India drew early blood with Jasprit Bumrah getting Kiwi wicketkeeper batsman BJ Watling (14) caught behind in the very first delivery of the day. It was Bumrah’s first wicket in some 48 international overs.
Tim Southee (6) did not last long, Ishant having him caught by Mohammed Shami before Jamieson and Grandhomme joined hands to punish India. Jamieson, who had taken four wickets in the first essay, smacked the ball all around the park before holing out to Hanuma Vihari at long off Ravichandran Ashwin (3/99).
It was Trent Boult who further frustrated the tourists with his 24-ball 38 run cameo which helped New Zealand take the lead to 183 before he was caught behind helping Ishant grab his fifth wicket. The Kiwis added 132 runs for the last three wickets.
Brief Scores: India 165 all out and 78/2 (Mayank Agarwal 52 batting; Trent Boult 2/17) New Zealand 348 all out (Kane Williamson 89, Ross Taylor 44; Kyle Jamieson 44, Colin de Grandhomme 43; Ishant Sharma 5/68; R Ashwin 3/99)