IND vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 5, Kanpur - NZ survive in nail-biting draw, India fail to take last wicket
Ravindra, Ajaz deny India victory as duo played 52 balls without getting dismissed; New Zealand draw the game
Brief Scores: India 345 (Iyer 105, Southee 5-69) & 234-7d (Iyer 65, Saha 61*, Jamieson 3-40) draw with New Zealand 296 (Latham 95, Young 89, Axar Patel 5-62) & 165-9 (Latham 52, Somerville 36, R Jadeja 4-40)
Spin, bounce, catches being dropped or taken amazingly, wrong umpiring decisions, extraordinary batting, fabulous pace and spin bowling, some careers on borderlines and at last here we are on the fifth and last day of the first Test between India and New Zealand series in Kanpur.
With 280 runs still being required for the visitors to win or survive the full day whereas India looking for 9 more wickets to take a 1-0 lead going into the Mumbai Test, one thing was certain; they had to work hard and be patient.
The surface was not what India bowlers, especially the spinners, would hope for. It was still a decent track if not the best going into the fifth day; it did deteriorate as it was expected to and most importantly the cracks were either very full or wide for the batters; not in those places where they would have any trouble.
India got frustrated as NZ top-order put up decent show in morning session
The pair of opener Tom Latham and nightwatchman William Somerville came out to the crease as Ravichandran Ashwin started bowling with a hope of getting some early purchase. The first couple of minutes weren't cherishable moments for the home side as tall pacer Ishant Sharma in an attempt to stop the ball, looked like he dislocated his finger.
From the other end, Ajinkya Rahane brought in Umesh Yadav to use the early help the pitch provided in the morning period of Kanpur’s foggy weather with the new cherry in hand. Well, it didn't happen but Somerville played some super shots to get going. Just when the Vidarbha pacer did look to ask some questions to both the batters, Rahane called Ishant Sharma who too had no clue to break the partnership. Well, one hour passed and that opener-nightwatchman pair kept the home side frustrated.
The Indian leader tried all his tricks as he recalled both Ravindra Jadeja and first innings hero, Axar Patel, but found no fruit. The pair looked as good as one of the top-order batting duos. The patience seems to have broken as India wasted an ordinary review on the bowling of Jadeja against a ball which made impact miles outside. The camera observed Blackcap’s skipper Kane Williamson sitting in the dressing room with eyes closed.
Both the batters were taking singles to keep the scoreboard moving as the odd boundaries were coming in between. Some balls were turning or staying low or spinning much but India weren’t being able to reap any rewards. Well, the umpires called for lunch as India still required the same number of wickets as they did overnight, whereas NZ required 205 runs with 59 overs being left. Read More: Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 4, Kanpur - Shreyas, Saha 50s help India set NZ 284; visitors one down
India clipped out three wickets in afternoon session
Finally, coming after the lunch break, on the very first ball, Vidarbha Express – Umesh Yadav - provided India some reason to celebrate on the field. It could be a smart plan which was executed to send the nightwatchman back to the hut. William Somerville couldn’t properly control the short ball and found Shubman Gill on the fine leg boundary who took an excellent catch diving forward. Although, there was some confusion about the bowler’s frontfoot, India welcomed opposition leader Kane Williamson to the crease.
The new duo played sensibly; Williamson quite wisely took couple of singles before using his feet to Axar Patel to hit him for a boundary over his head. The new partnership was throwing the new message that the Blackcaps were looking for a win if possible. In a blink of an eye, the 15-over hour got done as players took drinks and some refreshment. India still needed 8 wickets whereas Kiwis had two options – 176 runs and 44 overs.
Ravichandran Ashwin goes past Harbhajan Singh to become third-highest wicket-taker for India in Tests
Soon, opener Tom Latham, with a beautiful flick on the mid-wicket region, added another fifty in his pocket after falling short by five runs in the first innings of what could have been a fantastic hundred. But they say that those little celebratory moments could break your concentration and that exactly happened with Latham. He lazily tried to play a cut short and the ball due to the low bounce hit the timber.
Ravichandran Ashwin with 418-wickets in this process went past his hero Harbhajan Singh (417). New batter Ross Taylor never looked settled in his stay as he got his first run off the 23rd ball. And eventually, at the stroke of tea, Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Ross Taylor to provide some more joy going to the break.
The home side did a really good job by drying the runs in this session with just 46 runs being scored by the Kiwis; that easily gives an indication of the visitors’ approach. New Zealand now had the aim of surviving the rest of the day whereas the bird’s eye of the Indians was focused on getting those seven wickets. Read More: Ind vs NZ - 1st Test, Day 3, Kanpur - Axar's fifer, Ashwin's 3-fer reduce NZ to 296; India 63 ahead
New Zealand survived thanks to debutant Rachin Ravindra’s undefeated 91-ball 18
They didn’t need to wait long as new batter Henry Nicholls played down the wrong line against Axar Patel found himself being given LBW; although with some surprise, he went for a review in what was found to be plumb before the stumps. Indian fans on a working Monday had started to get the smell of a win.
Tom Blundell joined skipper Williamson, who was standing like a wall against India but Ravindra Jadeja used his magic hand. The NZ skipper tried to flick the ball to the on side but got undone to a ball that stayed low; and the moment the ball hit the pads, there was no way he could save himself from going to the dressing room. The big fish had gone back as the NZ dressing room looked a bit nervous.
After a small partnership, Tom Blundell got out in a very unlucky way against Ashwin. The ball after being defended by the NZ wicketkeeper-batter bounced on the foot mark and hit the timbre; almost the same fashion that Ashwin got out in the second innings; the Blackcaps had lost their seventh wicket. The only problem for the home side would be time as the floodlights were turned on at 3:30 pm. The natural light was slowly fading.
The ball had all of a sudden begun to ask too many questions to the batter. Kyle Jamieson, the tall lad, had to be careful about the low ball.
Fascinating last hour!
The last hour of the Kanpur Test began as India still eyed for three more wickets for victory. And after quite a few overs, Jamieson found a beauty against the new ball and got dismissed LBW.
Rachin Ravindra; just think about him. Five days ago, he was sitting on the chair around 8 am in the morning before earning his Test Cap and now here, he was fighting for a draw for his side. What was left was 40 minutes and 2 wickets; we were in for a boring Test match!
And again, Southee after a little enquiry about the light with the umpire found another jaffa from Ravindra Jadeja to go to the dressing room. One more wicket for Team India and around 30 odd minutes for NZ.
Seven men around the batter as India were trying to snatch the last one. The commentator suddenly kept reminding the viewers how two left-handers, Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar, saved a Test for England in Cardiff but it was not the same track.
The lightmeter became the most important thing in this Test. Everyone was looking at the sky as surprisingly the sun, for a moment, came out of the clouds; now, if the sun wants to carry on, why can’t we?
Andddd…. The ball kept a bit low and still no desserts for India. Ashwin doing everything; changing ends, varying pace and Rahane took an unsuccessful review to burn out all chances; will he do a Tim Paine? Again, time will have the last laugh.
The second dial in all the watches was ticking down; Test Cricket at its best. Light checked again as the last over of the minimum over left began by Ravindra Jadeja as all fielders around the batter. First ball was defended solidly, second ball defended somehow, third ball defended, fourth ball defended again, fifth one defended again; will it be the last ball? The conference gets started as all payers have their advice; sixth ball defended as both the batters removed their gloves. The game was stopped due to bad light but they could come back!! Or will they?
They didn’t eventually as New Zealand managed to survive thanks to a young man Rachin Ravindra who will keep his debut game for the rest of his life as a prized memory. India did try their best but fell short due to the last partnership.
What to expect in Mumbai Test
Both teams will reach Mumbai for the second Test which will be played from December 3-7. The series fate will be decided as India will welcome their regular captain Virat Kohli but whom will he replace? With Shreyas Iyer probably having cemented his place at least for the second Test, one of the other batters has to make way. Wriddhiman Saha’s neck issue could give KS Bharat a Test cap. NZ will look at their fast bowlers who have bowled so many overs during the course of the Test and could think of bringing Neil Wagner in the XI.
Nonetheless, New Zealand will be the happier side going into the second Test.
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