A resolute Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane failed to pull India out of the rut as the hosts meandered to 136/3 at one point, the batsmen down the middle order failed to further strengthen the innings. At the end of the Day One of the second cricket Test against New Zealand at the Eden Gardens, India were struggling at 239 for 7.
After the top order collapsed, Pujara (87) and Rahane (77) took the matter into their hands to put up a crucial 141-run stand for the fourth wicket.
However, as soon as Pujara left the field, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin did not take much time to follow him.
For New Zealand, Matt Henry took maximum three wickets whereas Jeetan Patel picked two.
Pujara, in the midst of a storm over his slow strike rate, gave an exhibition of classy batsmanship to complete his 10th half-century in 37 Test matches.
He played in his typical gritty manner, but was also ruthless on the loose balls as the wicket eased out under the afternoon sun and gave little or no purchase to the New Zealand bowlers.
He reached his half-century by steering Wagner to the fence past backward point, the landmark coming off 146 balls after a 185-minute stay. But 44 of those runs came courtesy 11 boundaries.
Rahane also looked solid and cautiously aggressive as the New Zealand bowlers failed to get any success in the second session, after dominating the first.
In the morning, India struggled to reach 57/3 at lunch with the New Zealand bowlers seizing the initiative on a lively and grassy track. Both Henry and Trent Boult bowled to a plan, maintaining a line on or just outside the off-stump.
India began on a wrong note after winning the toss, losing openers Shikhar Dhawan (1) and Murali Vijay (9) by the first drinks interval.
Skipper Virat Kohli (9) also failed to break his Eden Gardens jinx in the longest format of the game.
The dashing batsman chased a ball wide outside the off stump and finished in the hands of Tom Latham at gully. It was a brilliant catch as Latham virtually plucked the leather from thin air.
Kohli has now totalled 38 runs in four Test innings at the Eden, at a niggardly average of 9.50.
New Zealand got a huge jolt before the match as their skipper and batting mainstay Kane Williamson was ruled out due to indisposition with Ross Taylor becoming the stand-in captain.
India made two changes from the team that played the first Test at Kanpur. Shikhar Dhawan replaced the injured Lokesh Rahul, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar made it to the final XI in place of Umesh Yadav.
The visitors went with three changes. Henry Nicholls, Henry and Jeetan Patel are part of the team in place of Williamson, Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi.