New Zealand dominated Day 2 of the Kanpur Test with a solid performance. Tim Southee gave the day a brilliant start for the Kiwis and then the NZ openers followed it up with an unbroken stand of 129.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for India as Shreyas Iyer worked his way to a classy century on debut but he would have been disappointed by the manner in which he was dismissed for 105. The right-hander couldn’t keep the drive down and for a well-set batter, it was a big mistake.
Southee came up with a special performance to finish with match figures of 27.4-6-69-5.
Here’s a session-by-session recap of the day:
India resumed their day on 258/4 and would have had their eye on trying to reach 400 but even before the overnight batters, Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja, could get their eye in, New Zealand got a breakthrough.
Jadeja was saved by the umpire’s call in the first over of the day. A touch-and-go decision on where the ball would have hit the stumps but it was clear Southee had a plan. He went round the wicket and homed into the corridor of uncertainty.
And the tactic worked. Jadeja wasn’t quite sure of whether to leave the balls or to play them and ended up inside edging one back onto the stumps. It was a big wicket because it allowed NZ to have a go at the newer batters.
Shreyas Iyer cruised to his century off 157 balls. It was a classy innings and exactly what India needed. It also ensured that he will be part of the selection conversation ahead of the second Test when Virat Kohli comes back into the team.
The star of the day, though, was not Iyer. Southee, who had to go off the field for a while on Day 1 due to a problem with his hip flexor muscle, came up with an inspired spell. He got Jadeja early and then followed it up with the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha (1), Iyer (105) and Axar Patel (3).
The medium pacer bowled 12 consecutive overs to pick up four wickets in the spell and ended up with a much-deserved five-wicket haul. He didn’t try to do too much but instead relied on small variations of line and length to get him the wickets. That was the value of experience and his success would have made NZ skipper Kane Williamson wonder if he would have been better off with three seamers instead of three spinners.
At lunch, India reached 339/8 after 109 overs. Not the kind of start they would have wanted to the day.
In the session: 25 overs, 81 runs, 4 wickets in the session.
New Zealand continued their good work after lunch and wrapped up the Indian innings in good time. India were all out for 345, well short of 400 but enough runs to ensure they wouldn’t be on the back foot when they came out to bowl.
Coach Rahul Dravid, though, would have liked a few more runs and he would have been disappointed by the lack of match awareness shown by his batters. Southee and Jamieson looked more dangerous and India should have been looking to play out the spells but instead got perhaps a bit too greedy.
From a stats perspective, it looked like India had achieved a safe score. When India bat first at home and make more than 345 runs, they have won 32 of the 70 Tests they have played, drawn 37 and lost just one.
But New Zealand clearly wasn’t thinking about that when they came out to bat. Tom Latham and Will Young played to the merit of the ball and kept the Indian bowlers at bay with a fair degree of ease.
The pitch didn’t seem to have much for the Indian bowlers in terms of seam or spin and whatever it did, seemed to be slow.
At tea, New Zealand were 72/0 in 26 overs.
In the session: 28 overs, 78 runs, 2 wickets
The final session was no different from the first two for India. New Zealand kept things simple. Young and Latham didn’t pre-meditate their shots and that meant they kept their eyes on the ball at all times.
The odd shot was played but it was never an all-out attack. Rather, they found the balance that most visiting teams struggle to find in India. Enough runs were being scored and that in turn put the pressure back on India.
Latham and Young became the first visiting opening pair to stitch together a century partnership in Tests in India since England’s Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings in December 2016.
The only area that New Zealand would have wanted more in would have been their run rate. While they kept India wicket-less, their slowish scoring rate means that if the hosts can get a few quick wickets on Day 3, they will be right back in the match.
NZ ended the day on 129/0 after 57 overs. Latham on 50* and Young on 75 were in the middle at close of play. Williamson’s team still trailed by 216 runs.
In the session: 31 overs, 57 runs, 0 wickets