NAPIER - India made an inauspicious start to its cricket tour of New Zealand when embarrassed by the Central Districts Selection XI at McLean Park in Napier.
Central's pace bowling trio of Andrew Penn, David Blake, and Michael Mason capitalised on perfect swing bowling conditions to dismiss the visitors for 103 yesterday. In reply, Central had reached 121 for one at stumps, with captain Craig Spearman relishing the improved batting conditions to post an elegant 65 not out.
Central was batting before tea on the first day of the four-day game after Penn, Blake, and Mason ripped through India's top order.
Penn made a double breakthrough in the third over of the morning when he had Ajay Jadeja and Rahul Dravid dismissed in the space of two balls to reduce the visitors to four for two wickets. Blake's lively left-arm inswingers accounted for Navjot Sidhu and captain Mohammad Azharuddin. When the lanky Mason deceived star batsman Sachin Tendulkar with the last ball before drinks, India was reeling at 20 for five.
Saurav Ganguly and Nayan Mongia brought some respectability to the total with a sixth-wicket partnership of 46, but when Mongia offered a regulation catch to wicketkeeper Martyn Sigley, the innings fell away.
Indian coach Anshuman Gaekwad expected his players to benefit from the experience of batting in ideal bowling conditions.
``We knew the wicket would do something for the first hour or two and we had to try and stay out there and survive,'' he said.
``We played too tentatively, but I'm sure we will bat better in the second innings.''
Day 2: Indian batsmen send warning to CD XI
NAPIER - The Central Districts Selection XI may have had its day against the touring Indian cricket side.
In the final 50 minutes at McLean Park yesterday Indian openers Ajay Jadeja and Navjot Sidhu gave a broad hint of what awaits the plucky Central side over the next two days.
Jadeja slammed two sixes and four fours in the final 13 overs of the day to wipe 54 runs off India's first innings deficit of 233.
The opening day of the four-day match belonged to the home side with Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin full of praise at the way the Central pace trio of Andrew Penn, David Blake, and Michael Mason bowled in favourable conditions.
But with the pitch having flattened out into a perfect batting surface India is likely to make amends for its first-day blues. ``The Central bowlers bowled so well on the first day that any batsmen in the world would have struggled against them. The credit belongs with them,'' Azharuddin said.
``However, now we have a second opportunity and we can't afford to pass it up. Hopefully, most of us can get a big knock.''
Central's bowling attack will struggle a second time round to dismiss the star-studded Indian batting line-up judging by yesterday's final stages. Jadeja hogged the strike against Campbell Furlong and dispatched him for two sixes and two fours.
The highlight of Central's first innings total of 336 was the batting of Craig Spearman and Jarrod Englefield.