Pujara, Rahane shine but Kiwis have upper hand on Day One

 Late wickets gave New Zealand the upper hand after Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane rescued India from the initial jitters on a dramatic opening day of the second cricket Test match here on Friday.

The hosts were 239/7 at stumps, with local boy Wriddhiman Saha (14) and Ravindra Jadeja (0) in the middle at the Eden Gardens, where around 10,000 cricket buffs turned up to watch an absorbing duel of the leather and the willow.

In keeping with the festive season, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) tried to add a festive touch to the proceedings with traditional dhakis playing in full flow to celebrate every wicket and every boundary.

Opting to bat first, India lost three wickets in the pre-lunch session to totter at 46/3, with the New Zealand bowlers making the most of favourable conditions on the grassy Eden Gardens track that gave much carry to the pacers.

However, a gritty Pujara (87; 219 balls, 17×4) and a solid Ajinkya Rahane (77; 157 balls, 11×4) stitched together a 141-run stand to change the script. New Zealand failed to gain any success in the second session as the wicket eased under the afternoon sun.

The duo accelerated in the last session, before Pujara got out 49 minutes into the post-tea period.

The 28-year-old Pujara, coping with criticism over his slow strike rate, completed his third consecutive half-century of the series during the day and was looking perfectly poised for a century.

But he mindlessly went for an uppish drive against left-arm pacer Neil Wagner to finish in the hands of a waiting short cover fielder Martin Guptill. He had a strike rate of 39.72 during his innings.

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