India played one of its worst Test innings on Sunday, the first day of the First Test at Mohali against New Zealand. Against some relentlessly accurate fast and medium pace attack, India crumbled to 83 all out in only 27 overs.
Bowling a superb off-stump line the New Zealand trio of Chris Cairns, Dion Nash and Shayne O'Connors demolished the home team which might be cursing its luck for having lost the toss. The toss might turn out to be a significant aspect in this Test match.
New Zealand had certainly got the first day's honours. How far and true New Zealand would go from today's closing score of 119 for three in 51 overs would form the theme for the second day's proceedings. The game-plan of India on Monday would be watched with keen interest.
For, if the New Zealand batsmen exhibit a remarkable degree of temperament and technique, the team might as well amass a huge first innings lead to take absolute control of the proceedings on the remaining days of this Test match. Precisely, India would be going all out to prevent its opponent from assuming complete command. Some extraordinary spell of bowling alone could do that trick.
New Zealand, on the other hand, would be longing to establish a firm grip on this match. It would not like to leave any stone unturned to achieve this feat. Already, The New Zealand batsmen who were on view thus far made no secret of their intentions to frustrate the Indian attack. From disastrous eight runs for two wickets (both fell to Javagal Srinath), New Zealand recovered gamely today.
Craig Spearman (51 in 122 balls) and skipper Stephen Fleming (38 not out off 124 balls) were mainly responsible for keeping the Indian attack at bay. During their 35-over association at the crease (91 run stand) Spearman and Fleming batted so sensibly that the batsmen to follow them would have got a clear message. "If we concentrate we can dominate this Test match"-was the message.
The pair was separated when Spearman mistimed a full toss from Anil Kumble and the bowler accepted the return catch gleefully. Then Fleming found a determined partner in Nathan Astle (12 not out) and the pair played out the remaining 40 minutes of the day with utmost confidence.