India vs New Zealand, 1st Test: Debutant Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja join forces as India dominate Day 1
India staged an impressive recovery to go to stumps at 258 for 4 thanks in no small measure to debutant Shreyas Iyer who made a charming 75 not out and Ravindra Jadeja (50 not out) on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand. After stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and decided to bat, India were dealt an early blow before a steadying job by Shubman Gill (52) and Cheteshwar Pujara (26).
The conernerstone to India’s revival after a brief collapse, however, was laid down ny Shreyas Iyer, who became the 30th Indian to hit a half-century on debut. Alongside Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja proved yet again why he is such an asset to the team with the bat especially in Test cricket. The duo was involved in an unbeaten 113 run-stand for the 5th wicket after Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane disappointed despite getting to starts. The two senior players needed runs to shut down the growing chorus for a newer looking middle-order in Test cricket.
KANPUR TEST DAY 1: Highlights
This series is a great opportunity for several players who have been on the fringes of selection in the Test squad or have had to warm the bench over the past years. Without Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami for the entire 2-match series and without Virat Kohli in Kanupur, the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer.
Mayank Agarwal should be livid with himself for failing to capitalise although he was subjected to some serious questions from New Zealand’s new-ball bowlers Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson. Shubhman Gill was only too happy to show why he is regarded so highlhy in Indian cricket – that he should have used a strong platform to play a bigger innings is another topic for discussion on another day.
Meanwhile, both Pujara and Rahane had put up brave fronts in the lead-up to the first Test and said hundreds do not matter as long as they are contributing to the team’s cause. Perhaps, they will find out that big runs do matter in the middle-order especially with hungrier, younger players wating to grab the slimmest of chances with both hands.
Shreyas Iyer would not have played this Test had the regulars not been rested – he might even have had to sit out if KL Rahul was fit and the team management wanted to give Agarwal a run in the middle-order. But call it fortune or whatever, Iyer was brave and he was rewarded.
Known for his aggressive intent in first-class cricket, Shreyas Iyer already walked in to bat with a big reputation. He has impressed in the shorter formats for India and has been a crucial cog in the wheel for Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League. After the initial nerves, Iyer settled down to play a sublime knock and unleashed an array of shots which reminded New Zealand of how tough it is to hold on to any momentum against India in India in Test cricket.
And while Shreyas Iyer showcased his abilities with the bat, Ravindra Jadeja further enhanced his reputation as one of the most consistent all-rounders in world cricket. The duo got together when India were in a spot of bother at 145 for 4. Ajinkya Rahane had just been dismissed and New Zealand were eager to go for the kill.
But the Black Caps ran into two determined men – one a debutant and another who has done enough with the bat to be promoted ahead of Rahane in England and Wriddhiman Saha in India. There was nothing tentative about either Iyer or Jadeja in a partnership which continued to flourish as New Zealand’s bowlers started to run out of steam.
Indian batsmen have often done that to vising teams in Test cricket but it was a suprise to not see Mitchell Santner in the XI. Instead, Kane Williamson opted to go with Rachin Ravindra, a spin-bowling all-rounder alongwtih two spinners – Ajaz Patel and William Somerville and two pacers – Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson.
All the damage was done by the New Zealand pacers but it would have been interesting to see what Santner could have done with his accurate left-arm spin. Rachin Ravindra was undoubtedly selected to bolster the batting against one of the most fearsome bowling attacks in the world but Williamson did run out of options with his two main spinners being taken to the cleaners by India’s rescue team of Iyer and Jadeja.
There is still plenty of cricket to be played in this Test match but New Zealand will regret losing the momentum after rocking India’s top-order. It perhaps came down to the absence of a more accomplished fifth bowler or maybe India would have dealt with Santner with as much disdain. There is always a series of what ifs in sports at the end of an invigorating day.
That is what it was. An invigorating day of Test cricket where a young batsman, used to the rush of T20 cricket, stood tall when his more seasoned and battle-hardened colleagues failed.
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