Mohali: Openers Lou Vincent and Mark Richardson struck half centuries as New Zealand took firm control, reaching a commanding 168 for no loss in their first innings at tea on the opening day of the second and final Test against India in Mohali on Thursday. Resuming at the lunch score of 77 for no loss, the two openers piled up the misery on the Indians by their unfinished opening partnership that was assuming dangerous proportions. Vincent was batting on 80 while Richardson was on 62 at the tea break as the hapless Indians saw another session going without any reward.
Both the openers continued to play cautiously but were prompt to despatch the loose deliveries to the fence as the home team bowlers toiled to dislodge the opening pair. With the track easing out to a great extent in the post- lunch session, Richardson and Vincent seemed to be in no difficulty as they went about accumulating the runs to put their team in the driver's seat. Captain Rahul Dravid introduced a double spin attack immediately after the lunch break but Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh did not pose much of threat for the two Kiwi batsmen who grew in composure as the innings wore on.
The right-handed Vincent was the more aggressive of the two batsmen and was not afraid to go for some audacious shots against the spinners. He picked Harbhajan for some special treatment sweeping him to the square leg fence and then executing a rare reverse sweep in the same over which again fetched him four runs.