Hanuma Vihari 101, Cheteshwar Pujara 92 highlight India’s poor batting show vs New Zealand XI in tour match


After a top-order wobble put India in deep trouble, the ever-reliant Cheteshwar Pujara in combination with Hanuma Vihari dragged the visitors towards safety with fighting knocks in the ongoing tour match vs New Zealand XI in Hamilton. India were reeling at 38/4 after the 1st hour of play on Friday but Pujara and Vihari combined for a 195-run stand to put the tourists on the road to safety.

While Pujara fell 8 runs short of a well deserved hundred, Vihari reached the milestone soon afterward taking 182 balls for his century. The right-hander chose to retire soon after completing his hundred at the score of 101*.

Earlier India’s decision to test their batting on a nippy Hamilton morning backfired as 3 of India’s top-4 were dismissed for a total of 1 run.

New Zealand fast bowler Scott Kuggeleijn made life difficult for the visitors removing opener Prithvi Shaw for a 4-ball-duck in the first over itself. Shaw’s opening partner Mayank Agarwal (1) was the next to fall getting caught by Dane Cleaver of the bowling of Kuggeleijn. Next ball, newcomer Shubman Gill also fell for a golden duck after being caught by the wicketkeeper Tim Seifert as the Indians were in deep trouble at 5/3.

Pujara, who was looking solid in defence at the other end seemed to be weathering the storm with Ajinkya Rahane (18) before the latter fell to Jimmy Neesham in the 16th over with the team score reading just 38.

However, Hanuma Vihari and Pujara then decided to cut out the drives and went for blunting the attack. Showing extreme patience, Pujara completed a hard-fought fifty and put on 195 runs for the 5th wicket till Pujara fell in the 3rd session. While India lost 4 quick wickets in a tumultuous first session, the Pujara-Vihari partnership ensured that they didn’t lose a single wicket in the post-lunch session.

Once the pitch eased out Pujara and Vihari turned more aggressive and started to play more shots on the off-side. While Pujara played mostly along the ground hitting 11 fours and a six, Vihari assumed the role of the more aggressive partner bludgeoning 3 sixes and 10 fours on the way to his hundred.

Just as it looked like Pujara would coast to a hundred, he top-edged one behind to Cleaver thus bringing an end to the 195-run stand for the 5th wicket. Pant who arrived at the crease after Pujara fell made his intentions clear early on by starting off with a boundary off the 3rd delivery he faced. But as if on cue, Pant (7) tried to go aerial and paid the price as Ish Sodhi picked up his first wicket of the match. 2 balls later R Ashwin also fell without scoring leaving India at 246/7.

At the time of writing this article, India were bowled out for 263 with Kuggeleijn and Sodhi picking 3 wickets each.

Indian captain Virat Kohli did not bat. The match is devoid of the first-class status as the teams chose to use all the players in their squads for the match.

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