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Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 4, Kanpur - Shreyas, Saha 50s help India set NZ 284; visitors one down

Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha's fifties take India's lead to 284 runs.

Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 4, Kanpur - Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha 50s help India set New Zealand 284; visitors one down
Saha-Axar added unbeaten 67 runs for eighth wicket (©BCCI)

Brief scores: India 345 (Iyer 105, Southee 5-69) & 234-7d (Iyer 65, Saha 61*, Jamieson 3-40) lead New Zealand 296 (Latham 95, Young 89, Axar Patel 5-62) & 4-1 (R Ashwin 1-3) at Stumps on Day 4

In Test Cricket, they always say that the third day of a Test match is the moving day but for the current red-ball series between India and New Zealand, the fourth day has become the apple of the eye for the followers of the game.

After restricting New Zealand and getting a lead of 63 runs to end the third day, India looked to bat at least two-and-a-half sessions to throw a target of around 250-270 to explore the fifth day track against the opposition. Whereas the visitors had an aim to bundle out the home side under 150 runs; anything over that would be very tough to go for.

The surface did not have a lot of cracks because of the absence of sun; although as we have seen for the last few days that as time will progress, the 22-yard surface will begin to show its colour. So, good luck to the batters against a ball coming with your name.

Tim Southee pushes India back after home side stretched their lead to 133

Cheteshwar Pujara and opener Mayank Agarwal crossed the rope as Kyle Jamieson started with too many leg-sided deliveries which were trickled away for easy boundaries. Few balls were keeping low; few were raising high as the fans started getting their voices back.

It didn't take too long for Kane Williamson, the NZ skipper, to produce spin in the form of Ajaz Patel from one end but it was the big man, Jamieson who produced the first shock for home fans as Pujara unluckily feathered a leg-sided delivery in an attempt to let it go. Again, just like other days, the Blackcaps would thank the DRS due to another poor umpiring decision.

India skipper Ajinkya Rahane had looked good during his small stay in the first innings was facing some problems against the tall big bowler, Jamieson with balls of different heights. He opened his book in the second innings with a beautiful drive through extra-cover, however, the next ball hit him on the front pad and the dangerous finger got raised. After a little chat with the partner, he denied to refer wisely. India were pushed back with two wickets in the first hour.

Just after drinks break, the hunter of the first innings, Tim Southee, got himself in the second innings scorecard as he got well-settled Agarwal with a delivery in the tight corridor outside off-stump and New Zealand's outstanding slip corridor did the rest of the job. In a blink of an eye, he again dismissed Ravindra Jadeja, who didn't trouble the scorers. With a lead of exactly 100 runs, India have now lost half of their soldiers.

Well, at last, first innings centurion, Shreyas Iyer joined by Ravichandran Ashwin batted out the session with proper strokeplay; the former seemed to be batting on the pitch without much of a problem. With four wickets in the session, the pre-lunch period was dominated by the Kiwis; however, the lead of 133 runs would keep the home side interested in the game always. Read More: Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 3, Kanpur - Axar's fifer, Ashwin's 3-fer reduce NZ to 296; India 63 ahead

Iyer-Saha partnership helps India build up sizeable lead

The start of the second session was really good for India with both the set batters scoring runs easily; drives, pulls and edges were going in favour of the home side. When the baton seemed to be getting in the sub-continent side’s end, Williamson brought back Jamieson who struck straightaway with his second ball as Ravichandran Ashwin felt himself unfortunate watching the ball hitting the stumps before touching the pads and rolling on the foot-marks.

In the process, Kyle Jamieson took most wickets (22) for NZ against India in his first four Tests. Injured Wriddhiman Saha who was absent behind the stumps yesterday due to a neck issue batted rest of the first hour with Shreyas Iyer as India added few more on the lead column.

Well, Saha along with Iyer, stitched up a partnership of 64 runs where the former was showing so much intent. Meanwhile, Mumbai boy Shreyas Iyer backed his first innings century with another half-century in the second innings; becoming the player with third-most runs (170) in his debut Test for India behind Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma.

Again, just when the game was slipping in India’s favour, Tim Southee kept NZ in it with the huge wicket of Iyer. With the lead already being 216, the Kiwis hoped to come back in the last session and wrap up the home side as fast as they can, stopping the flow of easy runs. Read More: Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 2, Kanpur - NZ at 129-0 after Southee fifer restricts India to 345

India sets NZ target of 284; NZ 4/1 at stumps

Well after the break, it will be fair to say, India got themselves firmly in the driver’s seat scoring at a slightly higher rate taking the lead over 250 runs thanks to the unbeaten partnership between Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel.

Quite surprisingly, the Blackcaps seemed to have given up their arms and now their only goal was to slow up proceedings with the fielders being spread out all over Green Park. With the twelfth man coming out with drinks, the last hour was expected to show how the home side was planning ahead.

Around 45 minutes remaining for close of play but with light fading early, 20 overs were still to go in the day. However, India didn’t show any intent of declaring. In retrospect, they would have loved to expose those tired pressurized opposition legs with at least half an hour before the end of play.

And after another short drinks, Axar showed some intent hitting some boundaries and Saha scored his first 50 in 11 Tests since making 67 in Colombo in August 2017; finally, Ajinkya Rahane waved his hands to declare the Indian innings to set a target of 284 runs for New Zealand with one full day and 13 overs to spare. Just to remind the readers, no visiting side has successfully chased down more than 276 runs in the fourth innings in India.

Time is so important in life; a lesson Will Young came to recognise in his second innings. He was given LBW off Ashwin’s delivery that kept low; after a long discussion with partner Tom Latham, he went for the review but came second in the race with the timer. Guess what, the replays showed that the ball was missing leg stump. NZ finished on 4-1 at stumps.

What to expect on Day Five

The equation is very simple. New Zealand need 280 runs more to win or survive a full day’s play to draw whereas India will be looking for 9 wicket-taking balls. It is not going to be easy for Blackcaps to face the challenge of the three spinners and may be some reverse swing of the pacers but India have to keep patience for wickets.


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