Iyer puts India in box seat on dream debut

Published November 29, 2021
KANPUR: New Zealand wicket-keeper Tom Blundell dives to stop the ball after a shot from Indian batter Wriddhiman Saha during the first Test on Sunday.—AP
KANPUR: New Zealand wicket-keeper Tom Blundell dives to stop the ball after a shot from Indian batter Wriddhiman Saha during the first Test on Sunday.—AP

KANPUR: India’s Shreyas Iyer once again dazzled on his debut, hitting his second 50-plus score of the match to put his team in charge of the opening Test against New Zealand on Sunday.

New Zealand claimed four wickets in the morning session to nose ahead on the penultimate day of the see-saw contest at Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium.

Iyer followed his first-innings hundred with a crucial 65, forging 50-plus stands with Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha to revive India who declared their second innings on 234-7.

Chasing a daunting victory target of 284 on a worn-out track, the tourists were four for one when bad light stopped play.

New Zealand opener Will Young was given lbw to Ashwin, which could have been reversed but the batsman was late to review the decision.

Tom Latham will resume on two on Monday with nightwatchman Will Somerville, who is yet to open his account, for company.

“I think all three results are possible,” New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi told reporters. “If we bat with some good intent and make the most of opportunities to score them, then we certainly believe we can chase them down. From the Indian point of view, they’ll be going full of confidence that they can stop us from doing that.”

Earlier, New Zealand’s Tim Southee (3-75) struck twice in three balls in the morning session as they blew away India’s top order after the home side had resumed on 14-1.

Kyle Jamieson (3-40) conceded a couple of early boundaries before he dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 22, to open the flood gates.

Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel further pegged back India when he trapped stand-in home captain Ajinkya Rahane leg before wicket for four with an arm-ball that kept low.

Southee then twisted the knife by removing opener Mayank Agarwal, caught in the slip, and Ravindra Jadeja, trapped lbw, in a two-wicket maiden over to reduce India to 51-5.

Iyer and Ashwin, who made 32, not only steadied the innings but also scored briskly to put the pressure back on New Zealand.

Iyer departed on the stroke of tea but Saha soldiered on despite a stiff neck that kept him off the field on Saturday.

Saha remained not out on 61, having featured in a second 50-plus partnership with Axar Patel who made 28 not out before India declared.

It was a memorable Test debut for Iyer who was selected only after several frontline batsmen, including regular skipper Virat Kohli, were rested.

“I was aware I am the first Indian to score a century and a fifty [on test debut],” the batsman said. “In the end, we have to win the match, and that would be the most important thing for me.”

Iyer said the hosts had the “spin power” to keep the visitors under pressure for the final day.

Sunil Gavaskar was the last Indian batsman to score 50-plus in both innings of his debut test, a feat he managed against the West Indies in 1971.

Scorecard

INDIA (1st Innings) 345

NEW ZEALAND (1st Innings) 296

INDIA (2nd innings; overnight 14-1):

M. Agarwal c Lathamb Southee 17

S. Gill b Jamieson 1

C. Pujara c Blundell b Jamieson 22

A. Rahane lbw Ajaz Patel 4

S. Iyer c Blundell b Southee 65

R. Jadeja lbw b Southee 0

R. Ashwinb Jamieson 32

W. Saha not out 61

A. Patel not out 28

EXTRAS (B-3, LB-1) 4

TOTAL (for seven wkts declared, 81 overs) 234

DID NOT BAT: U. Yadav, I. Sharma

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-2 (Gill), 2-32 (Pujara), 3-41 (Rahane), 4-51 (Agarwal), 5-51 (Jadeja), 6-103 (Ashwin), 7-167 (Iyer).

BOWLING: Southee 22-2-75-3, Jamieson 17-6-40-3, Patel 17-3-60-1, Ravindra

9-3-17-0, Somerville 16-2-38-0.

NEW ZEALAND (2nd innings):

T. Latham not out 2

W. Young lbw b Ashwin 2

W. Somerville not out 0

EXTRAS 0

TOTAL (for one wkt, four overs) 4

TO BAT: K. Williamson, R. Taylor, H. Nicholls, T. Blundell, R. Ravindra, K. Jamieson, T. Southee, A. Patel.

FALL OF WICKET: 1-3 (Young).

BOWLING (to date): Ashwin 2-0-3-1, Patel 2-1-1-0.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2021

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