Updated: Nov 26, 2021
Iyer - Jadeja 113-run partnership for fifth wicket rescue India on Day one
Brief Scores: India 258-4 in 84 overs (Shreyas Iyer 75*, Jadeja 50*, Gill 52, Jamieson 3-47) at Stumps on Day One
India and New Zealand locked horns in the first of a two-match Test series at Green Park in Kanpur on November 25 after Team India registered a whitewash of the same opponents in a 3-match T20I series.
The last time both these sides met each other was in Southampton during the ICC World Test Championship 2019-2021 cycle Final where New Zealand claimed their first ICC trophy. Even before that, at the beginning of the year 2020, the Kiwis beat the Indian side 2-0 at home.
Dravid’s first big challenge as Head Coach
It's a new challenge for Head Coach, Rahul Dravid who is sitting on the coaching chair for the very first time in a Test match. With so many big players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah taking a break from the game ahead of the upcoming away South Africa series, Ajinkya Rahane has been given the leadership duties for the first Test before Kohli will take it back in Mumbai.
It is a new challenge for New Zealand too who last time won a Test in India way back in 1988. Interestingly, the Blackcaps are playing the first Test of this series in Kanpur, a venue where they played the first Test of their last Test series in this part of the planet in 2016, losing by a big margin.
Turner on offer
The pitch on the first day looked almost the same as it was five years ago; it will turn as the game will progress and Simon Doull, during the pitch report, mentioned that he is expecting a proper home Test track. "I like this concept of home series; you go to New Zealand, it looks very green; you come here and that's what you expect," he said.
India opt to bat first
Winning the toss, Ajinkya Rahane, with zero hesitation, elected to bat first as Mumbai boy Shreyas Iyer got his Test cap from legendary former skipper, Sunil Gavaskar. India were going in with three spinners and two pacers in the form of veteran Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav, who will expect some reverse swing as the game progresses.
Well, Williamson, after skipping the T20I series to give some rest to his injured elbow, is back as captain of his team. The visitors also handed a debut cap to spinning all-rounder Rachin Ravindra and picked two specialist spinners and pacers in the form of Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson, who too wasn't taking part in the shortest format of the game. New Zealand may miss Neil Wagner going forward in the game for his bouncers on a dead track like the one on offer at Green Park and a knack of conjuring one out of nowhere.
India lost solitary wicket of Mayank Agarwal in morning session
The Indian openers made their way to the middle with some fog in the air as one can expect in November-December in the northern part of India; swing was expected to make life hard for the new opening duo of Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill. Although, the pitch curator had insisted that this track will be a proper Test match wicket and the game should run at least till Day 4, on the third ball of the game, Tim Southee's feet cracked some holes on the 22-yards.
The first boundary of the game came off an edge from Agarwal's blade behind the stumps as wicketkeeper Tom Blundell failed to stop the ball. The seventh over saw the introduction of spin and straightaway it had its effect on the minds of the batters; the first ball bounced too much whereas the last ball rose only knee-high.
The big man, Kyle Jamieson, even after bowling two no-balls in his first three overs, drew first blood as Agarwal in flirting with the ball outside his off stump succumbed to a faint edge. In came Cheteshwar Pujara with lot of expectation and responsibilities on his shoulder in the absence of the seniors of the side.
The duo did really well with an unbeaten partnership going in to lunch at 82-1. Pujara, playing in his own way, frustrated the bowlers and tired them enough whereas Punjab boy, Gill notched up his fourth Test fifty.
Jamieson has India in trouble after lunch
The start of the second session was exactly what the opponents could dream of. On the last ball of the first over after the interval, Jamieson got the half-centurion Gill, thanks to the slowness of the track which took the inside edge straight into the stumps. India skipper Rahane arrived under some amount of pressure. For the next half an hour, Pujara-Jinx looked good with some boundaries from the former which pulled up his confidence but again from somewhere Southee produced magic. He kept bowling inswingers from wide of the crease and suddenly, the fourth ball held its line and drew an edge off Pujara’s bat.
India, under a bit of shock, welcomed debut man Shreyas Iyer at the crease for his first FC appearance since 2019. Southee, in between, perhaps felt some problem and left the field.
Jamieson replaced him to be hit by a beautiful cover-drive. Rahane’s backfoot drives were telling that he was slowly making a comeback but again, all of a sudden, after surviving a caught behind down the leg stump, chopped one on to the stumps.
Ravindra Jadeja, who is playing a Test match in India after two years, made sure of no more shocks as the duo went to tea unbroken. The session belonged to New Zealand as India found themselves at 154-4 targeting at least 300 on a 22-yard consisting of variable bounce.
Last session belonged to India as they added 104 runs without further loss of wickets
The first hour of the last session was totally what India would expect. With Southee getting treatment and being on and off the field and Jamieson already bowling quite a few overs was waiting for the new cherry. And to take advantage of it, Iyer was playing against the New Zealand spinners treating them like schoolkids. He got away from the stumps, jumping and bringing up his maiden 50 with applause from all over the ground. Williamson kept on changing the field but bore no fruits. The last drinks break of the game was taken.
The shoulders were falling down as NZ bowlers began to bowl so wide that umpire Virender Sharma had to come and ask skipper Williamson to change the tactic. Nonetheless, immediately at the end of the 80th over, NZ took the new ball and brought fresh two pacers but failed to carry on as the sun of November in India set to bring to end proceedings on the first day.
Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja brought up his 17th half-century with his traditional celebration. With the dark shades coming and the artificial lights taking over, the Blackcaps after bowling one over of spin with the fresh cherry decided not to waste the hard grip and left the field. And with it stumps was called.
What to expect on Day Two
With an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 113 and six wickets still in hand, the Indian side will look at 350 and perhaps 400 which means the sun will have more effect on the 22-yard to tear it up for Axar Patel, Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin to make life difficult for the opponent batters.
New Zealand will hope to finish it as early as possible and bat well in their first innings whereas the umpires can hope for a better day in the office. All in all, an exciting Day Two awaits the followers of the game.
Here are some of the top twitter reactions from IND vs NZ Tests, Day 1: