At a loss to explain India's poor batting in the ongoing first Test against New Zealand, opener Murali Vijay on Friday said more than the pitch, it is the new ball which is hurting willow-wielders on both sides. (Day 2 report)
The Kiwis piled on 503 runs in their first innings and have reduced India to 130 for four at the end of Day 2. (Highlights)
But Vijay felt the new ball is affecting batsmen in both the teams equally. (Pics)
"If you see both the innings so far, the new ball did the trick for bowlers in both teams. More than the pitch or conditions, it is the new ball. Initially it tends to swing a bit more and once it gets older, it becomes much easier to bat. That is what is happening in the middle. Hopefully, Rohit (Sharma) and Ajinkya (Rahane) can build a big partnership," said Vijay.
The opener scored 26 runs, stemming the collapse after Shikhar Dhawan (0), Cheteshwar Pujara (1) and Virat Kohli (4) were sent back with only 10 runs on the board. India need to make 304 runs to avoid the follow-on.
He built a partnership with Rohit, but was undone when a brilliant delivery from left-arm seamer Neil Wagner knocked back his off-stump.
"The New Zealand bowlers were obviously swinging the ball. But we could have played much better. Maybe in the next innings, we can do that," he said.
When asked particularly about the delivery that got him out, Vijay replied, "I just need to get it off my system. I think I batted well, I was feeling good inside. I just wanted to have a partnership with Rohit. That was the plan. But it couldn't go my way.
"The pitch is still very good for batting. So I am hoping we can go close to their score and put pressure on them," he added.
The Kiwis' skipper Brendon McCullum took a fair share of the credit for such a tall score awaiting India, as he hit his second Test double hundred against his favoured opposition.
"When someone bats like that, you cannot do much as a bowler. Brendon batted brilliantly for them. I thought there were times when he could get out, but he just carried on and got a biggie.
"You have to admire it even more then, because the way he plays his shots and the confidence he has in himself, it is a great thing to watch. We did bowl well, according to our plans, but he batted brilliantly," Vijay signed off.