India took full advantage of the home conditions as they pretty much dominated the second days play. No team is harder to beat at home than India and it was seen once again as the spinners came to the party and strangled the New Zealand batting. Pitches all over the world are generally best for batting on days two and three and India continued the good work with the overnight pair carrying on from where they had left off the previous evening.
Pujara has more than eight scores over 150 in first class cricket in his budding career so far, and he added to that though he must be decidedly unhappy that he did not go on to get a double ton. So also the skipper Dhoni about missing his century, for he after a long time batted most positively in Test cricket.
Their partnership took India to a healthy total. Whether it is a match winning total will be seen soon enough, but the tail did not wag and it is an area that needs to be looked at, simply because apart from the feel good factor and sheer entertainment that the tail end batting invariably provides, it frustrates the opposition being kept on the field longer than they expected.
The openers generally start planning their batting as soon as the eighth wicket falls and the longer it takes to get the last two wickets the more mentally agitated the openers become and that can lead to a shot that can get a wicket. The tail must learn from the Australians and as we saw recently from the South Africans how invaluable those runs from their bats can be and must not gift their wickets away. India's bowlers know how tough it is to get a wicket so they mustn't make it easy for the opposition to get theirs too.
The Kiwis were in the West Indies not too long ago where they encountered the spin of Sunil Narine, but mostly it was pace all the way that they had to face. In India their best chance is to settle down while the seamers are on and get some runs under their belt before the spinners come on.
On Indian pitches the Indian spinners are a breed apart and the combo of Ashwin and Ojha created enough problems for the visitors. None of the batsmen looked keen on stepping out to put pressure on the spinners and if they are going to stay cocooned in their crease then sooner than later they are going to fall a prey to the fielders hovering around the bat. Williamson looked good again and as he showed a couple of years back he has the class and ability to keep the spinners at bay.
McCullum and Taylor are experienced in Indian conditions, but both are not doing themselves or their team any favours by their approach. McCullum takes far too many chances and Taylor far too few. Getting the right mix is of course the key to scoring runs in any form of the game, but especially so in India on its pitches where the ball keeps low and turns variably.
New Zealand's first target should be to avoid the follow on now for that gives them some breathing space and it is here that India will feel they could have got more if their tail had wagged.