Williamson, McCullum hit back against India




Sharma was the most impressive of the Indian bowlers with two for 39 off 15 overs. 

AUCKLAND (AFP) – Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum engineered a crucial fightback for New Zealand after a disastrous start to the first Test against India at Eden Park on Thursday.

After coming together with New Zealand in serious trouble at 30-3, they put on 149 for the fourth wicket to lift New Zealand to 179-3 at tea with Williamson on 79 and McCullum on 71.

After being sent into bat in ideal bowling conditions, New Zealand managed only 54 runs in a difficult first session of play where they lost both openers and their leading batsman Ross Taylor.

But when the cloud cover started to lift and the sun broke through after lunch, the wicket began to flatten out allowing Williamson and McCullum to add 125 in the second session.

It was an at-times belligerent approach to revive the innings and not without risk. Williamson belted seven fours and two sixes and McCullum clubbed 12 fours.

Williamson brought up his 50 with a top-edged six and the century partnership with a classic cover drive to the boundary.

But he also had a life on 32 when he edged a seaming delivery from Mohammed Shami, only for Murali Vijay to drop a sitter at first slip. Vijay also let an edge from McCullum go through his legs for four.

With the cloud cover and the green wicket in the first session, the Indian pace attack found plenty of movement to trouble openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford.

Ishant Sharma was the first to strike when he teased Rutherford (six) with a series of deliveries that angled away until the left-hander slashed and caught an edge which was well taken by Ajinkya Rahane in the gully.

Fulton, who was dropped early by Shikhar Dhawan, eventually went for 13 when he was rapped on the pads by Zaheer Khan.

His dismissal brought Taylor to the middle. But the player who has provided the backbone of the New Zealand batting in recent months drove Sharma to Ravindra Jadeja at mid-off and was gone early for three.

India were buoyant as they made the most of the early conditions only for Williamson and McCullum to snatch the initiative away as the day progressed.

Sharma was the most impressive of the Indian bowlers with two for 39 off 15 overs.



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