India vs New Zealand 2012: Pujara shines on Day 1 with India at 307/5

Updated: Aug 23, 2012, 17:58 PM IST

Feroz Khan

Hyderabad: Cheteshwar Pujara has waited long to get a spot in the Indian playing XI. Long enough that when he was presented with the opportunity, he responded in a manner that strengthened the belief that Indian team will not miss the services of Rahul Dravid who made the crucial no. 3 spot synonymous with his name.

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At the end of the first day, India were 307/5 with Cheteshwar Pujara (119) and MS Dhoni (29) still at crease.

As Pujara headed towards the pitch after Virender Sehwag got out in a characteristic fashion, edging one to slips, he would have been feeling a lot of pressure. And why not, coming in at the no.3 spot, left vacated by the veteran batsman is a huge responsibility.

He began sedately and slowly got into the groove. By the time he set off for a single in the 70th over of the match, the crowd erupted at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium. The 24-year-old had completed a maiden ton on his self declared ‘second debut’ for India.

A positive start and then...

After captain MS Dhoni had won the toss and decided to bat first, the home team began their innings on a positive note with Gautam Gambhir playing the first delivery of the day from Chris Martin for a boundary towards fine leg. Along with Virender Sehwag, he began the proceedings on a steady note. By the end of fifth over, India were 15/0.

It was in the sixth over of the match that Sehwag opened up his shoulders and collected back-to-back boundaries off Martin. From there, the run rate picked up.

However, Gambhir couldn’t hold his temptation to poke at a delivery that was pitched outside off and the result was that he got an outside edge and left arm pacer Trent Boult provided the first breakthrough for the visitors.

Sehwag continued unfazed as he quickly moved to 47 that included nine boundaries. Again, like his opening partner, he attempted a careless stroke as he tried to play a short one from Bracewell over the slips. The ball went into the hands of Martin Guptill and he headed for the pavilion.

Even Sachin Tendulkar could only manage 19 before being bowled by Boult off a brilliant delivery that stayed low, bringing the batsman to his knees, crashing on the middle stump.

Youngsters to the fore

Pujara, who came after the fall of first wicket, was then joined by Virat Kohli and the duo produced a century stand to steer the innings forward in a comfortable position.

Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 119 as the stumps were drawn on the first day of the Test. He looked calm and his strokes displayed confidence. He didn’t shy away from playing the pull shot as Martin tested him dropping one short. He has smashed 15 boundaries and a six in his innings so far and proved to be the difference between the two sides.

He was well supported by Kohli, who fell after scoring a half-century. Suresh Raina frittered away another opportunity as he was dismissed cheaply for just 3.

Sloppy fielding

For New Zealand, the fielders must take the blame for missing chances. Ross Taylor was the main culprit dropping as many as three catches that could have made the story of Day 1 a bit different from how it turned out to be. They looked good only in patches as first Sehwag and then Kohli seemed to benefit from the missed chances.