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Double strikes from Ishant rattle New Zealand

Posted on Feb 06 2014 | IANS

Auckland, Feb 6 : Double strikes from fast bowler Ishant Sharma gave India an impressive start in the first cricket Test against New Zealand at the Eden Patrk here Thursday.

The New Zealanders, who were put in by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, were left struggling at 54 for three in the first innings at lunch.

Kane Williamson (22 not out) and captain Brendon McCullum (five not out) were trying to repair the innings after the Kiwis were reduced to 30 for three.

On a gloomy morning, Indian pacers made the best of the seam-friendly conditions and Ishant picked up two wickets including that of New Zealand's best batsman Ross Taylor (3).

After a 15-minute delayed start, New Zealand lost both its openers Peter Fulton (13) and Hamish Rutherford (6) in what was a tricky first hour of the game.

Fulton survived an early chance when he was dropped in the slip cordon in the fifth over, but then got under way with two good on-driven boundaries off pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.

Fulton also survived a close lbw appeal from pacer Mohammad Shami but wasn't so lucky when Zaheer rapped him on the back pad after changing ends.

At the other end, Rutherford kept chasing eveything outside the off stump. And Ishant who struggled during the ODI series, finally found his form in favourable conditioms and extracted good bounce to trouble the batsman.

Ishant forced Rutherford (6) to play outside off and he was brilliantly caught by Ajinkya Rahane at gully, as New Zealand slumped to 23-2.

With New Zealand in dire straits the onus was on the pair of Taylor and Williamson, who were in great form during the ODIs. But this time, Taylor faltered badly with his timing and Dhoni attacked with a packed slip cordon, leg slip and short leg.

Ishant forced Taylor (3) to drive and Ravindra Jadeja held a sharp chance at mid-off.

Earlier in the day, Kiwi skipper McCullum lost his sixth consecutive toss in the series and was put in to bat by Dhoni.

For India it was a good toss to win as the Eden Park surface is likely to ease down as the match progresses.

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