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Kiwis back in contention

Kiwis back in contention
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The Kiwi tail took the match into the Indian camp with a spirited rearguard action, thanks to a 162-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Doug...

BRACEWELL, SODHI LEAD FIGHT BACK

Samuel Tatikonda

Visakhapatnam: The Kiwi tail took the match into the Indian camp with a spirited rearguard action, thanks to a 162-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Doug Bracewell (96) and Ish Sodhi (57) at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium here on Tuesday. It was a miraculous comeback from the 275 for eight on which they resumed the day to be all out for 437.

If the fielding was sloppy on the one hand, the bowlers lacked the sting, which was ideally exploited by the gritty customers in the middle. The two battled into reckoning after dealing the bowlers with disdain for over 43.1 overs.

The Indian trauma did not end just then. Strike bowlers Mark Gillespie and Bracewell removed Unmukt Chand (4) and Vijay Zol (2) in quick succession. But VA Jagadeesh (40) and Manprit Juneja (43) steadied the rocking Indian boat with an unbroken 87-run stand that took India to 94 for 2 before bad light ended play early for the second straight day. Their task is cut out for Wednesday as they trail New Zealand by 343 runs with eight wickets in hand.

Play began 40 minutes behind schedule, with dark clouds covering the stadium. Bracewell and Sodhi started cautiously against Dhawal Kulkarni and Imtiaz Ahmed. The pair could add just 20 runs in the first hour of play with Sodhi throwing his bat around repeatedly.

With the seamers being unable to strike upfront, Abhishek Nayar turned to his spinners, Jalaj Saxena and Rakesh Dhruv. The move was met with positive intent from Bracewell. New Zealand broke the shackles in the second hour of play by scoring a succession of boundaries, with the scoring rate being well over five runs an over. Bracewell and Sodhi went to lunch unbroken after adding 126 runs to their overnight total.

The break provided an opportunity for India to regroup as they took just 4.1 overs to dismiss the men who had bogged them in the morning session. Bracewell, unlucky to miss out on a deserving century by four runs, played down the wrong line to be bowled by Nayar, while Sodhi gloved a short delivery from Kulkarni to gully to bring an end to the New Zealand innings.

Unmukt Chand and Jagadeesh were teased by the bowlers from the word go. Chand, who appeared unsettled against the swinging ball, was caught behind while poking at an away going delivery from Gillespie to give New Zealand their first wicket. The seven-over spell following Chand's dismissal produced just 10 runs with Vijay Zol struggling. Buckling down to pressure, Zol attempted an expansive drive to an away going delivery from Bracewell only to be snapped by Tom Latham at first slip. India was at a precarious 16 for 2.

Manprit Juneja walked out to three slips and two gullies with the New Zealand seamers sniffing an opportunity to break in to the middle order with the new ball. But he appeared unruffled. Even a blow on his rib cage which forced him to have a precautionary X-ray earlier in the day didn't affect his footwork as he played some delightful strokes, particularly through the off side.

The striking feature about his game was his footwork. Juneja's sparkling form rubbed on Jagadeesh as well who played some delightful shots. The passage of play after Zol's dismissal, in many ways, indicated the true nature of the pitch. But New Zealand would believe it would need just two early wickets to get back into the contest after creating a number of opportunities to wrest the initiative.

Brief Score: New Zealand ‘A’ (First innings) 437 (Doug Bracewell 96, Ish Sodhi 57, D S Kulkarni 3/53, Jalaj Saxena 2/101) vs India ‘A’ (First Innings) 94 for two (V A Jagadeesh 40no, M C Juneja 43no).

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