Shreyas Iyer struck a hundred on debut to prop up India but a five-wicket haul by Tim Southee followed by half-centuries by openers Will Young and Tom Latham helped New Zealand sit on top at the end of day two of the first Test at the Green Park Stadium here on Friday. After India were bowled out for 345, New Zealand were 129/0 in 57 overs at stumps, trailing the hosts by 216 runs.
When India resumed the day at 258/4, many wouldn’t have given a chance to Southee becoming the wrecker-in-chief, especially after he had walked off the field in the second session on Day One due to a groin complaint. But Southee shined in a magnificent bowling display of 11 overs to steal the thunder from Iyer’s maiden Test hundred.
Things didn’t start well for Southee, who had an lbw appeal rejected in his opening over against Ravindra Jadeja. But in his next over, Southee broke the 121-run stand between Iyer and Jadeja as the latter chopped onto his stumps with no feet movement, departing without adding to his overnight score.
Iyer, on the other hand, began where he left off on Day One, caressing two boundaries off Kyle Jamieson’s first over of the day.
Iyer continued to do well against Jamieson, getting boundaries through a thick edge between slip and wide gully fielder followed by an elegant cover drive. The 26-year-old reached his maiden Test century with two runs through point off Jamieson in the 92nd over, becoming the 16th Indian batter (tenth at home) to score a century on Test debut. He also became the second Indian batter after Gundappa Viswanath (against Australia in 1969) to score a Test hundred on debut in Kanpur.
Southee continued to run through the Indian batting order, as Wriddhiman Saha nicked behind to keeper Tom Blundell in the 93rd over. Ravichandran Ashwin stalled his rhythm briefly by taking consecutive boundaries off him. Post drinks break, Southee had his third wicket of the day as Iyer chipped a drive away from the body to cover. He then completed his second five-wicket haul in India by getting one to seam away from Axar Patel, drawing him into a poke and nicked behind to the keeper.
Ashwin continued his counter-attack, taking a boundary each off Southee and Jamieson. He, along with Umesh Yadav, ensured tha’ India didn’t lose any more wickets before lunch.
After the break, Ashwin was bowled by Ajaz Patel, beaten by a ball turning sharply from outside leg-stump. Patel got his second wicket of the match by trapping Ishant Sharma plumb lbw. Sharma took the review but replays showed the ball hitting top of middle and leg stump, completing a comeback by New Zealand, picking the last six wickets for 87 runs.
After skittling out India for a total below 350, New Zealand had to show some fight with the bat, duly fulfilled by Latham and Young. It was a steady yet nervy start for the duo, surviving the opening spells from Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma though there were a few close brushes. Latham survived an lbw appeal off Sharma in the third over but DRS showed an inside edge on to the pads.
Young started to get a move on by striking two boundaries off Yadav in two overs. He also swept Ravichandran Ashwin comfortably over square leg. Six overs later, he was unafraid in using his feet while driving down the ground off Ashwin. Young managed to loft a drive over mid-off before going to tea with a copybook drive through covers off Axar Patel.
Post-tea, Young started to grow into the aggressor while Latham was happy holding fort from the other end. Young reached his half-century with a thick outer edge rolling past gully off Umesh Yadav in 28th over. He continued to take runs off Yadav, smashing consecutive boundaries through square of the wicket on off-side while using his feet impressively against the spinners.
Latham swept Ravindra Jadeja over mid-wicket in the 39th over, bringing the century of the opening partnership. The desperation for a wicket was such that India took a DRS against Young on an lbw decision despite the ball clearly going down leg.
Post drinks break, the ball did a lot for the Indian spinners but not enough to get a breakthrough. Ashwin had Latham caught behind in the 56th over but the opener got to reverse the decision on inside edge. By the time stumps were drawn, New Zealand made it their day, thanks to their openers’ abilities to soak the pressure and be rock-solid along with Southee outplaying the Indian batters through his mastery of swing.
Brief scores: India 345 all out in 111.1 overs (Shreyas Iyer 105, Shubman Gill 52, Ravindra Jadeja 50, Tim Southee 5/69, Kyle Jamieson 3/85) against New Zealand 129/0 in 57 overs (Will Young 75 not out, Tom Latham 50 not out)