The first day of a new season is much anticipated with a mixture of excitement and a bit of trepidation too. How is the season going to go is what, not just the players but cricket lovers also are anxious about. The dreams are there, but so is the realisation that it could all turn into a nightmare.
Indian cricket began another season and with greater anxieties than earlier ones since the team had lost two of its greatest players, who retired from the game and the previous couple of series had been eminently forgettable for them. There was a bright spark in Virat Kohli and to a certain extent Umesh Yadav but apart from that, Indian cricket was unsure what lay ahead of it.
I cannot replace Rahul Dravid: Cheteshwar Pujara
At the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Hyderabad, there was big sigh of relief as Cheteshwar Pujara became the latest member of the Test centurions club and Virat Kohli batted well too. The two youngsters were the standout performers on a pitch where the ball came nicely on to the bat and there was some help for those bowlers who were prepared to give it everything.
For New Zealand too there was bright spark in Boult, who though not as quick as a near namesake Usain, bowled in what coaches like to call good areas and made the batsmen play the new ball and not waste it. Doug Bracewell was impressive too and if the Kiwis known for their fielding had been sharper, they would have had more wickets than they showed at the end of the first day's play.
The day belonged to Pujara. He made an impact in his first Test itself a couple of years back when he scored a brilliant 70 odd against the Australians. He had been promoted up the order that time ahead of Rahul Dravid and eyebrows were raised then, but his innings had helped India keep the momentum and carve out a famous win over the then number one team Australia. Now Dravid is looking after his children and driving them to school and doing the household chores instead of holding up the Indian innings as he so manfully and successfully did for over 15 years.
Pujara stepped into Dravid's position once again as Indian cricket lovers watched with bated breath and showed that while the style is different, the intent is the same and that will have pleased all those who did not know what to expect. Yes, this Kiwi attack is not the most testing in the world, but every batsman knows how tough it is to score a single run in international cricket.
Pujara displayed the right application and attitude and his choice of which deliveries to play and which to leave alone was Dravid like. He is still there along with the skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and India will be hoping that they add a few more runs.
The other more experienced batsmen did not do themselves justice. Gambhir poked at a ball outside the off-stump, while Sehwag flashed at it and both were gone when they had got starts. The master too got going and then got out and Raina did not make the most of his opportunity.
The Kiwis would be quite happy that after the first day they have the major batsmen back in the pavilion, but they should be made aware that Pujara likes to go on and on. Just like Rahul Dravid.