A ‘second wire’ Indian side punched above their own weight as the home season began against New Zealand in Kanpur. Team lacks top three in KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, but it didn’t matter as young Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill both scored half-centuries. Moreover, senior supporter Ravindra Jadeja also came into the party (50* off 100) as he shared a 113-run partnership with Iyer to prevent any further lead when the hosts were reduced to 145/4.
When Jadeja came in, India NZ frontline seamers were in a spot with Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee both looking good enough to move on. Had India lost a wicket there, things could have changed quickly. Credit here must go to the all-rounder as he came down for a protracted fight, and it had an effect on Iyer as well. The Mumbaikar, who was making his Test debut, was exceptional with his feet against the likes of Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville. And once he caught his eye, he started asserting himself to bring up a well-deserved half-century in the very first Test. He remained unbeaten on 75 off 136 balls at stumps.
New Zealand were lucky to have the likes of Jamieson in their ranks. The lanky pacer bounced off the dead pitch and swung the ball around. He got rid of Mayank Agarwal with a fine outswinger and then dismissed Shubman Gill (52 off 93), who spent a lot of time in the middle before going back to the stumps. Meanwhile, Jamieson bowled three no balls but remained impeccable with his length. The wicket of Ajinkya Rahane (35 off 63) was crucial. It was an unfortunate ending for the India captain, who could have taken a high score with both hands, instead repeating the same pattern – avoiding the starting path and then losing focus when it was crucial. Meanwhile, vice-captain Cheteshwar Pujara also scored 26 off 88 balls and succumbed to a very good delivery from Tim Southee.
Earlier, Gill scored his fourth half-century as India reached 82-1 by lunch. Curiously, on a track that was low and slow and didn’t offer much turn, New Zealand spinners Ejaz Patel (0/56 in 15 overs) and Will Somerville (0/28 in 13 overs) were disappointing. But Rahane will be disappointed as he hit six beautiful fours before pulling off one as he expected the ball to bounce higher considering Jamieson’s height.