AUCKLAND - India were struggling at 130-4 after day two of the first Test against New Zealand, who posted a daunting 503-run first innings built on a double century by Brendon McCullum. In a dramatic start to India's reply, New Zealand claimed the prized scalps of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in a withering burst from Tim Southee and Trent Boult that reduced the tourists to three down for only 10 runs.
When Rohit Sharma (not out 67) and Ajinkya Rahane (not out 23) began to rebuild the innings as spin was introduced in fading light, New Zealand orchestrated an early end to the day's play by threating to bring the pace attack back. "Our swing and seam bowlers are our best option so it seemed a bit silly to try and persevere with our spinners when there's still a bit in the wicket," captain McCullum said after play was halted 17 overs early.
"I thought it would be better to bring them (Boult and Southee) back which obviously forced us off the field. What it means is we've still got a hard ball in the morning. Hopefully we'll get some overcast conditions and it will suit both Tim and Trent again." Pujara, who averages 66.25, went for one and Shikhar Dhawan a duck as both fell in the opening over when they edged good-length deliveries from Boult.
Kohli's sole scoring shot was a four off Boult before a sharply rising bouncer from Southee nicked his glove and popped into the hands of Peter Fulton at second slip. Kohli was reluctant to leave and indicated the ball hit his helmet but replays showed it deflected from the helmet to the glove and then to Fulton. By tea, India were limping at 45-3 but the situation become more dire after the resumption of play, when a swinging Neil Wagner delivery beat Murali Vijay (26) and broke the bails.
When New Zealand resumed the day at 329-4, McCullum spearheaded a blistering end to their innings as they put on 174 runs in 31.4 overs. His was the last wicket to fall for 224, one run short of his career best 225, also set against India at Hyderabad in 2010. He went to the middle when New Zealand were in early trouble on the opening day at 30-3, rescuing the innings with a 221-stand for the fourth wicket with Williamson who fell for 113. Corey Anderson posted 77 in adding 133 for the fifth wicket.
McCullum rated New Zealand's 503 as "obviously a brilliant effort" after being sent into bat on a green wicket with heavily overcast skies where he thought 200 would be competitive. "Never would I have thought that after being 30-3 and seeing the conditions we were confronted with did I think we could get 500." McCullum became only the fourth New Zealander to score more than one double century, behind Glenn Turner (two), Stephen Fleming (three) and Mathew Sinclair (two).
In his marathon stand lasting just under eight hours, McCullum faced 307 deliveries and belted 29 fours and five sixes. Ishant Sharma, who claimed McCullum's wicket to end the New Zealand innings, was the pick of the Indian bowlers with six for 134 while Zaheer Khan finished with two for 132.