After India were bowled out for 165, New Zealand’s star batsmen Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor combined to ensure New Zealand held a first innings lead in the first Test against India in Wellington on Saturday.
But the advantage was not overwhelming, thanks to a late fightback staged by the impressive Indian bowling unit.
The marquee New Zealand pair both fell short of substantial innings by their standards, with captain Williamson out for 89 and Taylor gone for 44.
But their 93-run stand for the third wicket was enough to lift New Zealand from 73/2 to be ahead of India’s 165 before the tourists fought back with three crucial wickets in the final session.
When bad light brought an early end to the day, New Zealand were 216/5, to lead by 51.
Sharma was the pick of the Indian bowlers with three for 31 off 15 overs.
Williamson went to the middle following the early dismissal of Tom Latham and was rocked by Sharma with the first ball he faced but from there he returned to his patient, confident self.
He put on 47 with Tom Blundell (30) for the second wicket before being joined by Taylor to put New Zealand in front.
The New Zealanders were clearly relishing home conditions in their first Test since being thrashed 3-0 in Australia.
Taylor, New Zealand’s highest run scorer and celebrating his 100th Test, received a standing ovation when he entered the arena where he looked in fine touch as he peppered the boundaries with six fours and a six.
But on 44, what was shaping as a formidable partnership with Williamson was undone by a rising Sharma delivery that ballooned off the gloves to Cheteshwar Pujara at square leg.
With Taylor gone, Williamson lasted 10 more overs but only added a further 15 runs before his bid for a 22nd Test century came to an unexpected end when he drove a Mohammed Shami half volley to the safe hands of substitute fielder Ravindra Jadeja at cover.
The green wicket and overcast conditions which were in New Zealand’s favour when they won the toss and opted to bowl were easing by the time India opened their attack.
The sun was out and the pitch was browning off, and apart from some sharp deliveries from Sharma much of the Indian bowling did not pose any serious threat to the batsmen. But they kept persevering and at stumps, kept India in the hunt.
India had resumed the day at 122/5 and added only 43 runs as their last five wickets fell in just over 13 overs.
Debutant Kyle Jamieson and veteran Tim Southee combined to wrap up India’s first innings for 165 on the second morning of the first Test in Wellington on Saturday.
It was good a first session as New Zealand could have hoped for after the Indian batsmen were blown away in just over an hour and then their openers went into the interval without losing their wickets.
Jamieson finished with figures of 4/39 while Southee 4/49.
The India tail was exposed with back-to-back wickets in the fourth over of the morning.
First one to fall was Rishabh Pant who was run out for 19 by Ajaz Patel with a direct hit from point. It was a moment of madness that India did not recover from.
Pant had added nine to his overnight total in a bright start that included belting Patel over the mid-wicket boundary for six off the fourth ball of the morning and he had reason to feel he was hard done by with his dismissal.
Ajinkya Rahane had dabbed a Southee delivery towards Patel at point and took off for a quick single and Pant, reluctant to start running, was well short of the crease when Patel’s side-on throw crashed into the stumps.
Ashwin Ravichandran was next to the middle and was bowled first ball by Southee with a delivery that swung away late and clattered into the off-stump.
Rahane progressed to 46 before his stubborn innings was ended by a Southee delivery that caught the edge of the bat and gave BJ Watling his third catch behind the stumps. The Indian vice-captain would be kicking himself as he was attempting to leave the ball and ended up edging the ball anyway.
Jamieson accounted for Ishant Sharma who was also caught behind for five and Southee wrapped up the innings when he had Mohammed Shami caught for 21.
Day two will have extended second and third sessions after rain washed out play post tea on day one.
(With AFP inputs)