Hamilton: During the afternoon session, head coach Ravi Shastri walked out of the dressing room and stood behind the wicketkeeper to watch Umesh Yadav bowl. The New Zealand XI team had already lost five wickets, India were on top, but Shastri continued to watch Umesh’s second spell of the day like a hawk.
Umesh is the front-runner to accompany Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in the first Test in Wellington from Friday and the coaching staff seemed keen on ensuring that he can match the exploits of his pace bowling partners.
Umesh had a modest day with figures of 2-49 from 13 overs and bowled well in phases. He squared up New Zealand XI opener Rachin Ravindra with a brute of a delivery and then had Daryl Mitchell caught at mid-wicket for 32. But given Shami and Bumrah had combined for 5-35 in 21 overs, it is evident that Umesh needs to raise his game come next week.
New Zealand were bowled out for 235 in 74.2 overs but Bumrah (2-18 in 11 overs) and Shami (3-17 in 10 overs) used the conditions well and in the process, added miles to their legs ahead of the two World Test Championship games.
Umesh (2-49 in 13 overs) and Navdeep Saini (2-58 in 15 overs) bowled more overs but weren’t half as good as the two premier pacers who troubled the batsmen in all their spells.
With the pitch easing out, Prithvi Shaw (29 batting off 19 balls) unleashed a series of cover drives including a ramp shot six while Mayank Agarwal (23 batting off 17 balls) got a maximum with a Nataraj shot to finish the day at 53 for no loss.
The final half hour was entertaining as Scott Kuggeliejn and Blair Tickner got some serious pasting from both Shaw and Agarwal, who used the pace to get some easy runs. It did help that the Seddon Park track had eased out considerably making strokeplay easier than expected. Bumrah was exceptional with the new and the old ball, while Shami was arguably India’s best bowler as he bowled with pace and skill.
When Shami is in good rhythm, his strides are perfectly spaced and the ball hurries on to the batsman.
On Saturday, whether it was bowling into or with the breeze at his back, Shami looked like a world beater.
Both Tim Seifert (9) and Henry Cooper (40) looked inept in defence as Shami’s away swingers kissed the outside of their willows.
Jimmy Neesham (1) looked distraught as Shami pegged back his off-stump. It was fast bowling of the highest calibre that made the New Zealand XI batsmen look amateurish at times.
But perhaps the most satisfying fact was Shami’s double act with Bumrah. Dismissing New Zealand XI for 235 might not come as a surprise, but the way the Indian seamers are operating, it is bound to send shivers in the New Zealand camp.
No. of wickets Shami (3) and Bumrah (2) claimed on Saturday
Inputs from PTI
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