Latham, Young make India's spinners toil after Shreyas Iyer's 105
Brief Scores: New Zealand 129-0 (Young 75*, Latham 50*) trail India 345 (Shreyas Iyer 105, Gill 52, Jadeja 50, Southee 5-69) by 216 runs at Stumps on Day Two
India going in to the second day were in a commanding position with two set batters at the crease and with two all-rounders and Wriddhiman Saha, the wicketkeeper-batter to follow. On the flip of the coin, Blackcaps were planning to start fresh and get two to three scalps as early as possible to restrict the home side at least under 320-odd runs.
The 22-yard was slowly changing its nature with the cracks opening up slightly; the variable bounce like the first day would continue to create problems for the batters but most importantly the slowness of the surface would give the batters enough time to play their shots which meant it was still a good batting track going into Day Two.
Tim Southee stunts India’s flow of runs with quick wickets; India make 81-4 in morning session
The two overnight batters, Shreyas Iyer on 75* and Ravindra Jadeja on 50*, walked in to bat. Although the former hit couple of boundaries to start the morning, New Zealand showed why they are the current World Test Champions.
Southee drew first blood of the second day with a little chop on off Jadeja. Iyer since then seemed to lose knowledge of his shirt colour and with a couple of more fours, inched closer to a debut hundred which arrived with a couple.
A debut century and Iyer joined an elite group of Indian batters receiving so much applause from the dressing room. The question is already in the air now as to who will Virat replace in Mumbai? Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane?
Since then, the first hour belonged to Tim Southee and New Zealand. He initially found the edge of Saha's bat before making Iyer play a shot against a ball bowled really away from him just after the drinks break. The 32-year-old went on to get the edge of Axar Patel too to become the first visiting bowler since 1980 to grab a 5-wicket haul in Kanpur.
In between all those scenes, Ashwin showed intent to hit the balls; well, he might be giving the coach and team management something to promote himself at least over Axar; least he could expect with four centuries in his Test career.
Well, both Ashwin and Umesh Yadav ensured that there would be no more hiccups till lunch but the visiting team would have a sweet lunch taking 4 wickets for 81 runs, the standout being Southee who even after being injured last evening, bowled 11 tight overs.
India fold up for 345 after lunch after which NZ openers grind it out
New Zealand didn’t take too long to get the job done as Ajaz Patel took the last two wickets to fold India on 345, a score that the home side would grab on any surface especially after quite a few hiccups in the middle losing 4 for 150-odd but not when you found two set batters coming to the crease on a fresh morning.
The two New Zealand openers, Will Young and Tom Latham, who is so good against spin having centuries in Sri Lanka and UAE against quality spin bowling, hoped to tackle Axar Patel, Jadeja and Ashwin. Well, they were required to wait for that challenge as India skipper Ajinkya Rahane threw the ball to speedsters, Umesh and Ishant Sharma. The decision appeared to be raising few eyebrows in the commentary box. Nonetheless, both pacers kept it tight before Ashwin was introduced in the seventh over.
The crowd found some voice with the balls that missed the edge. Jadeja, in his first over, asked some hard questions to Latham, who ultimately saved himself thanks to a DRS call taken against a wrong LBW decision. In just around 15 overs of NZ innings, it was unexpectedly Nitin Menon’s second wrong decision. The batting from the both the openers was so sensible; hitting the odd boundaries, playing with soft hands, having so many variable shots in your kitty.
Ajinkya tried all his bowling options but it bore no fruit. With a beautiful cover drive, the World Test champions went to tea at 72-0. The Indian shoulders were slowly dropping a bit and as a leader Rahane did well to show faith on the bowlers with a pat on the back or a hand on the shoulder.
India fail to make breakthrough in final session as well
The third session started and Will Young brought up his fifty with a boundary; such a wonderful innings from someone who is touring India for the first time. He has been a prolific scorer of runs in NZ’s domestic cricket where he turns up for Central Districts.
The NZ openers kept on batting with the confidence bar raising higher and higher. In between, the odd balls were turning but nothing seemed to make a crack between this right-left combo. They brought up the first 100+ run opening partnership for visiting side since 2016 when England's Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings put up 103 runs for the first wicket in Chennai against the home.
The birds were flying back home, the crowd slowly getting silent with the oohs-aahs appearing to be missing. The whole day belonged to the Kiwis; they have something special in them.
The second hour of the final session saw the ball spin a lot more than before. But still the two batters showed good application of batting and how to approach this discipline in the subcontinent. Tom Latham soon with a sweep notched up his 21st half-century. Luck was something he seemingly ate for breakfast, lunch and tea as all his dismissals were overturned by the third umpire. In between this, Ashwin tried a new way of bowling which tells how hard he practices in the nets.
And then just like the last evening around that 04:25 PM mark, the lights were fading which made way for early stumps, a decision that probably no team would complain given how the day had passed for the home side. The only time the bails were tickled off by an Indian today was when Jadeja helped Virender Sharma in dropping the bails to declare close of play.
What to expect on Day Three
Well, no prizes for guessing what would India look for at the start of the next day; whereas New Zealand openers have to start fresh again and they would surely look to first get to India’s 345 and go beyond that given that they would have to bat last on this 22-yard pitch.
Nonetheless, the Indians fans have surely realised why the Blackcaps are the current World Champions in the longest format.
Here are some of the top twitter reactions from IND vs NZ, Day 2: