KOLKATA: Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha’s battling half-century helped India reach 316 before the hosts tore into the New Zealand top order on the second day of the second test at Eden Gardens on Saturday.
After India were dismissed shortly before lunch, the home side’s seamers did all the early damage as New Zealand staggered to 85 for four in their first innings before rain forced an early tea break.
Stand-in captain Ross Taylor (30) was unbeaten at the crease with Luke Ronchi (35) falling leg before on the last ball before the umpires signalled the players off the field as the weather deteriorated.
Mohammed Shami trapped opener Tom Latham (one) leg before, while an out-of-sorts Martin Guptill (13) departed when the ball ricocheted off of his elbow and onto his stumps after he lifted his arms to avoid a Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery.
Henry Nicholls (one) was out soon after play resumed in the second session when the left-handed batsman chopped Kumar on to his stumps to reduce the Kiwis to 23-3.
Taylor and Ronchi, who made 38 and 80 in the first test in Kanpur, then took the fight to the hosts with a 62-run fourth wicket stand as they opted to play shots against India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ronchi was dropped by substitute fielder Gautam Gambhir at short point off Shami and then survived a confident leg before appeal against Jadeja before his luck ran out and he was trapped in front by the left-arm spinner.
New Zealand’s hopes will rest heavily on Taylor’s shoulders with regular captain Kane Williamson absent through illness and the tourists can expect a further trial by spin on a wearing track as the innings progresses.
Resuming on 239-7, India, who lead the three-test series 1-0, added some valuable runs through their lower-order batsmen, with Saha (54 not out) completing his third test fifty.
The 31-year-old, who has cemented his place in India’s test side after the retirement of long-standing captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was struck on the elbow and the ribcage by some hostile New Zealand bowling.
But the right-handed batsman did not flinch and brought up his fifty with a four and a six in successive deliveries off left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, much to the delight of the crowd, who applauded at length for the local cricketer.
Saha added 41 for the eighth wicket with Jadeja (14) and another 35 for the final one with fellow home favourite Shami.
Fast bowler Matt Henry, who took two catches in the morning, was the most successful of the New Zealand bowlers by claiming a three-wicket haul, while Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and Jeetan Patel all picked up two apiece.