Mohali: Openers Mark Richardson and Lou Vincent survived some anxious moments before taking New Zealand to a comfortable 77 for no loss at lunch on the opening day of the second and final cricket Test against India in Mohali on Thursday. The Indians paid the price for some indisciplined bowling to allow the visitors to lay the foundation for a big first innings total with both the openers remaining unbeaten with 29 runs each at the break.
The two Indian new ball operators Zaheer Khan and Lakshmipathy Balaji generated a fair amount of pace in their early overs but were also a little guilty of straying in line and length on a number of occasions. Though the track provided some bounce and movement in the early stages of the contest, the two Indian bowlers could not obtain the break through as the Kiwis openers played cautiously to give the visitors a steady start.
The left handed Richardson produced an elegant extra cover drive to the boundary to open his account in Zaheer's very first over while his partner Vincent flicked Balaji to the square leg boundary in the next over. Both the batsmen survived a few confident leg before appeals in the first hour of play, being repeatedly wrapped on the pads particularly by Balaji. Richardson got a reprieve when stand-in captain Rahul Dravid spilled a sharp chance at first slip with Zaheer being the unlucky bowler. The opener had scored just ten runs at that stage.
Vincent, who appeared a trifle shaky, also had a close shave in Balaji's next over when another confident lbw shout was turned down by umpire David Shepard much to the dismay of the Indians who were desperate to break the opening partnership. Vincent responded by hitting the bowler to the fence in the very next ball. Dravid surprisingly brought in Sachin Tendulkar as the first change bowler in place of Zaheer who conceded 13 runs in his five-over first spell.Tendulkar did not trouble the batsmen much as they grew in confidence as the moisture in the track dried out, making life far easier for the willowers.
The Indian captain gave Balaji a rather long first spell of eight overs before introducing spin in the form of Anil Kumble in the 18th over of the innings. But the leg spinner also could not make much of an impact on the two Black Cap openers. Almost at lunch time, Dravid brought in Harbhajan and gave the off-spinner two overs before the break.