Richardson repels Zaheer's pace to give Kiwis control

India 161 New Zealand 201-7

By Brian McKenna
Saturday 14 December 2002 01:00

The New Zealand opening batsman, Mark Richardson, hit an unbeaten 83 in the face of an Indian fightback on a shortened second day of the first Test.

The home side reached 201 for 7 at the close in response to India's 161 all out. Richardson was the only batsman to make a significant impact although Nathan Astle added a useful 41.

The day started with the news that two men had been arrested for trying to burn an anti-war statement on to the Basin Reserve field. While the pitch survived that scare it was unable to absorb the overnight rain which delayed the start until after lunch. When play did begin, India set about righting the wrongs of Thursday when they struggled with bat and ball.

However, the hosts played out the remainder of the afternoon without loss. But after tea the wickets started to fall. First out was the captain, Stephen Fleming, bowled for 25 by Zaheer Khan. Craig McMillan made a brief nine before he was out lbw to Sanjay Bangar.

Richardson and Astle then set about stabilising the New Zealand innings, putting on 70 in 20.4 overs with Astle taking the lead role, hitting six fours in an innings of 66 balls. But the partnership was broken when Astle was unable to fend off a vicious short ball from the pacy Zaheer which flew to Harbhajan Singh at cover.

India then reduced the home side to 185 for 6. Harbhajan dismissed Scott Styris and Jacob Oram both for ducks. Robbie Hart hung around for 42 balls, making six, before he became seventh man out, lbw to Zaheer.

Richardson, who has coped well with the difficult pitch, is New Zealand's hope of building a telling lead on the third day.

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