Black Caps stumble against spin
India assumed control in the opening Test against New Zealand as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha shared five wickets on day two.
From a position of strength on 307 for five overnight, India advanced to 438 all out with Cheteshwar Pujara taking his score on to 159 and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni adding 73.
Off-spinner Jeetan Patel finished as the pick of New Zealand’s attack with 4-100 from 41 overs, but his team-mates then struggled on a dry and dusty surface offering assistance to the slow bowlers.
New Zealand closed on 106 for five, trailing by 332, with James Franklin unbeaten on 31 and Kruger van Wyk yet to score.
Ojha was introduced in the eighth over and had Brendon McCullum caught at cover with his third delivery.
Ashwin, who had earlier contributed 37 with the bat, then took centre stage, claiming three wickets in quick succession.
Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor were taken at backward short-leg by Virat Kohli, having mustered just two apiece, while Daniel Flynn fell lbw on the sweep for 16.
Kane Williamson and Franklin resisted thereafter, but India claimed another success prior to stumps when the former, looking to cut, was caught at slip off Ojha.
India’s left-arm spinner returned 2-35, while Ashwin boasted figures of 3-30 from 14 accurate overs.
Pujara and Dhoni had earlier batted throughout the morning session, the start of which was delayed by 25 minutes due to the threat of rain.
A pull down to fine-leg off Doug Bracewell in the penultimate over before lunch took Pujara to 150, yet New Zealand’s bowlers fought back impressively following the interval.
Pujara, seeking to raise the tempo, was pouched by a back-pedalling Franklin at mid-on and Dhoni departed in similar fashion when picking out mid-off.
Patel was responsible for both wickets and, after Zaheer Khan had been caught behind off Trent Boult, he also had Ashwin stumped off a flatter delivery.
Umesh Yadav was run out in the next over to bring India’s innings to an end, but it was not long before the hosts found themselves in command.