New Zealand openers Will Young and Tom Latham showed a lot of determination, taking their team to 72 for no loss at tea after veteran pacer Tim Southee’s five-wicket haul restricted India to 345 on the second day of the opening Test here on Friday.
This was after Shreyas Iyer became the 16th Indian cricketer to score a hundred on Test debut but the home side’s lower-middle order caved in meekly save Ravichandran Ashwin (38 off 56 balls), whose counter-attacking effort took them close to 350.
Right-handed Young (46 batting off 86 balls) and left-handed Latham (23 batting off 72 balls), who appealed successfully by taking DRS for two on-field lbw decisions, defended doggedly for 26 overs but also hit nine boundaries between them to keep the scoreboard ticking.
To be fair to Indian bowlers, the bounce was better on the day as Southee’s four morning victims was a proof and also there wasn’t much turn off the surface for both Ashwin (8-1-25-0) and Ravindra Jadeja (6-2-16-0).
New Zealand’s first target will be to reach 146 and avoid the follow-on which will also give them time to take the game deep as India would need to bat third and it won’t be easy on this track with variable bounce.
But credit for that must go to Southee (27.4-6-69-5), who was tirelessly bowling an extended spell of more than 10 overs from one end, causing extensive damage.
Resuming on overnight score of 75, Iyer (105 off 171 balls) on Friday became the 16th Indian to score a hundred on Test debut and second after the great Gundappa Vishwanath to reach the milestone at this very ground after 52 years.
Ashwin did the bulk of scoring in the morning session as India added only 87 runs losing six wickets in the process.
But the morning also belonged to the seasoned Southee who picked up his 13th five-wicket haul in his 80th Test. He was on target with the second new ball first up as he sent back Ravindra Jadeja (50) on his overnight score.
Southee as usual used the width of the crease cleverly and the angles to trouble Jadeja and got the ball to move from length which was too much for the lower-order players to negotiate. Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel nicked at those deliveries.
Sensing that he is now batting with the tail as Saha (1 off 12 balls) is no longer a batter on whom one can repose his faith, Iyer hit a flurry of boundaries but the best shot was a cover drive off Kyle Jamieson (22.2-6-85-3) which took him to 96.
A glide towards wide of third man off Jamieson got him a double and the moment that every cricketer awaits. A century in India whites which would definitely increase the pressure on his captain for the game, Ajinkya Rahane.
His innings had 13 fours and two sixes which showed that he was always looking at ways to score runs rather than merely surviving.
He was finally out for 105 when he tried to drive a slower one from Southee but it landed straight in the hands of cover fielder.
Ashwin, however, didn’t seem troubled as he hit five fours, including a regal cover drive off a rare loose ball from Southee.
India 1st Innings:
Mayank Agarwal c Blundell b Jamieson 13 Shubman Gill b Jamieson 52 Cheteshwar Pujara c Blundell b Southee 26 Ajinkya Rahane b Jamieson 35 Shreyas Iyer c Young b Southee 105 Ravindra Jadeja b Southee 50 Wriddhiman Saha c Blundell b Southee 1 Ravichandran Ashwin b Patel 38 Axar Patel c Blundell b Southee 3 Umesh Yadav not out 10 Ishant Sharma lbw b Patel 0 Extras: (B-5 LB-2 NB-4 W-1) 12 Total: (All out in 111.1 overs) 345
Fall of wickets: 1/21 2/82 3/106 4/145 5/266 6/288 7/305 8/313 9/339 10/345
Bowling: Tim Southee 27.4-6-69-5, Kyle Jamieson 23.2-6-91-3, Ajaz Patel 29.1-7-90-2, William Somerville 24-2-60-0, Rachin Ravindra 7-1-28-0.
New Zealand 1st Innings: Tom Latham not out 23 Will Young not out 46
Extras: (LB-1, NB-2) 3 Total: (For no loss in 26 overs) 72
Bowling: Ishant Sharama 4-2-6-0, Umesh Yadav 6-2-12-0, Ravichandran Ashwin 8-1-25-0, Ravindra Jadeja 6-2-16-0, Axar Patel 2-0-12-0.