AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Rohit Sharma was battling to save India’s innings as the tourists finished the second day of the first test against New Zealand on 130 for four after Brendon McCullum’s double century had guided the hosts to a mammoth first innings total of 503.
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Rohit was 67 not out when the players were forced from the field due to poor light at Eden Park with Ajinkya Rahane on 23 after New Zealand’s pace bowlers had ripped the top off their innings by reducing them to 10-3 in the sixth over.
Neil Wagner had bowled Murali Vijay for 26 shortly after the tea break before Rohit and Rahane consolidated the innings with a 79-run partnership that was adjourned with 17 scheduled overs of play remaining on Friday.
New Zealand’s innings was anchored by McCullum’s second test double century as the captain shared in productive partnerships with Kane Williamson, who scored 113, Corey Anderson (77) and Ish Sodhi (23).
McCullum’s dismissal ended New Zealand’s innings and he fell just one run short of his highest test score of 225, also against India in 2010.
His innings was the highest by a New Zealander at Eden Park and fourth highest overall. England’s Wally Hammond holds the record of 336 not out in 1933.
India paceman Ishant Sharma, who had been under pressure after poor form in the one-day series, was the pick of the visitors’ bowlers with 6-134.
India’s reply began terribly with a fired up Trent Boult and Tim Southee harrying their batsmen from the first over.
Boult had Shikhar Dhawan well caught by Williamson in the gully before Cheteshwar Pujara chased a wide delivery and was easily caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling to leave the world’s second best test side reeling on 3-2 in the first over.
Southee, who had been peppered by India’s pace bowlers earlier in a cameo innings of 28, unleashed a vicious bouncer that caught Virat Kohli’s gloves and Peter Fulton held the head-high catch at second slip to reduce them further to 10-3.
Vijay and Rohit then took the visitors through to tea on 45-3 before left-armer Wagner got a delivery to seam slightly away and hit the top of the former’s off-stump after the pair had added just six more runs.
Rohit, who has scored two centuries in his four previous test appearances, then took the fight back to New Zealand, hitting eight boundaries and one maximum as he improved his batting average to 80.
India will resume on Saturday needing a further 174 runs to avoid the follow-on. The second match of the two-test series is in Wellington and starts on February 14.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien