Shreyas Iyer’s 65 and an unbeaten 61 by the resilient Wriddhiman Saha, who battled pain and injury throughout his 126-ball innings, helped India get back on track and into a position of strength after Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson ripped through the hosts’ top order on Day 4 of the first Test in Kanpur.
Ravichandran Ashwin then dismissed New Zealand opener Will Young towards the end of the fourth day, leaving India nine wickets away from winning the match and taking a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
Iyer and Saha led India’s lower order fightback as the hosts posted a second innings total of 234/7, setting New Zealand a target of 280. This was after India found themselves tottering at 51/5 in the first session of the day. Iyer’s dream debut just got better as he followed his first innings hundred with a fine half-century. His innings helped India reach 167 for seven at Tea.
The 26-year-old put up partnerships of 52 runs for the sixth wicket with Ashwin and 64 runs with Saha for the seventh.
It was Ashwin who took the initiative in the partnership, counter-attacking after Southee and Jamieson dismissed India’s out of form senior batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Ajinkya Rahane. After opener Shubman Gill fell to Kyle Jamieson late on Day 3, Agarwal and Pujara put up a partnership of 30 runs for the second wicket before the latter fell to Jamieson as well.
The situation then got worse for India with Rahane, Agarwal and Ravindra Jadeja all falling with the space of six overs. While Rahane was dismissed by Ajaz Patel, Southee accounted for the wickets of Agarwal and Jadeja. Ashwin and Iyer got together, with the former deciding to play his shots while the latter rotated the strike and prevented India from losing any more wickets in the first session.
It was a different story for the rest of the day. New Zealand could only take two wickets in the second session. Ashwin fell on 32 off 62 to Jamieson and about 20 overs later, Iyer fell to Southee on 65 off 125.
Saha and Axar Patel then ground out the New Zealand bowlers and India eventually declared to have about three overs at the New Zealand batsman.
While openers Tom Latham and Will Young put up a 150-run partnership in the first innings, it was not to be as Ashwin dismissed the latter. Young would not have been out had he reviewed the LBW decision but he signalled to the umpire only after the timer ran out.