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NZ fight back in first Test against India

NZN 22/09/2016

Spinner Mitchell Santner and paceman Trent Boult combined to lead New Zealand's fightback and restrict India to 291-9 on the opening day of the first Test in Kanpur.

At 154-1, India looked set for a big first-innings total but, after Santner claimed three top and middle-order wickets, Boult (3-57) wreaked havoc with the second new ball to peg back the hosts at Green Park Stadium.

Unsurprisingly, New Zealand's three spinners bowled the bulk of the overs to share five wickets on a typical sub-continental track which had little for the pacemen.

Ravindra Jadeja (16) and Umesh Yadav (eight) will return on Friday looking to take India, who went into the match with four bowlers to accommodate an extra batsman, at least past the 300-run mark.

Santner says New Zealand's perseverance was admirable.

"After losing the toss, I think we are in a reasonably good position," he said.

"It was pretty flat to start with, it was a pretty good batting surface and they did bat well.

"I guess we've got to get this last wicket and build some partnerships with the bat and go from there."

Earlier, Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay gave the hosts a decent start after skipper Virat Kohli had opted to bat in India's 500th test.

Rahul's past four innings across all formats had yielded two centuries and a 50 and the right-hander, chosen ahead of Shikhar Dhawan, dominated his 42-run stand with fellow opener Vijay.

The 24-year-old hit four boundaries, and a six off Santner, before getting a faint edge to wicketkeeper BJ Watling in the left-arm spinner's second over.

Cheteshwar Pujara (62) then joined forces with Vijay (65) to prop up the innings, the duo adding 112 runs for the second wicket and rarely looking in trouble.

They brought up their individual fifties in successive overs before Santner had Pujara popping a simple return catch.

After 11 overs of toiling on an unresponsive pitch, Neil Wagner struck a body blow when he banged it in short and induced Kohli (nine) into attempting a pull shot early in his innings, only to top-edge a catch to Ish Sodhi.

Indian-born Sodhi dismissed Vijay just before tea with Watling holding onto another faint edge as New Zealand claimed three important wickets for 80 runs in the second session to halt India's progress.

Batting at six, Rohit Sharma made a fluent 35 but could not fully convince he could replicate his limited-overs success in the longest format.

Ravichandran Ashwin made 40 but his team will expect him to make a greater impact with his offspin bowling.

The pitch is expected to increasingly favour the spinners but Santner says it is important to narrow their focus.

"We can't be looking too far ahead. We just have to get through day by day and go from there," he said.

New Zealand made a surprising selection by omitting Henry Nicholls and promoting wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi to play as a specialist batsman.

Ronchi, who scored 88 and 31 in his only Test against England in Leeds last year, was listed to bat at No.5.

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