The first Test could not have been better scripted. Both teams, India and New Zealand, are evenly placed after two days of cricket, although the last session of second day was washed out by rain in Kanpur.
But by the time the drizzle began, there was nothing which could have helped to guess which way the match is heading. While the New Zealand batsmen were on track to get their centuries, the Indian spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja had started to get some purchase from the wicket.
Before the guessing phase, it was New Zealand all the way as both Latham and Williamson stroked their way to unbeaten half-centuries and credit should be given for the way they handled the Indian spinners.
They shared an unbeaten 117-run stand for the second wicket which helped their team finish at 152/1. India had taken Tea on Day 1 at 185/4.
Resuming at their overnight score of 291/9, India added 27 more runs in the morning session, thanks to Jadeja’s quick runs. India were bowled out for 318 when Umesh Yadav, looking to leave the ball, gloved it to wicket-keeper BJ Watling off Neil Wagner.
Virat Kohli took the attacking stance early in the New Zealand innings as he brought on Jadeja as early as the third over. But Martin Guptill didn’t let him settle. By the 10th over, Ashwin was also introduced. Guptill didn’t let him settle as well. Ashwin was struggling to grip the ball early in the innings and bowled loose deliveries which Guptill dispatched for boundaries.
Latham, on the other hand, slowly built his innings. He swept the spinners and gave majority of strike to Guptill. But once the latter was trapped LBW by Umesh, he took the lead role with Williamson.
Apart from one anxious moment, Latham’s innings was a display of focus and concentration in the middle. Williamson scored at a far more quicker rate than him
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Latham swept Jadeja which deflected off his boot to short-leg where KL Rahul took the catch. The on-field umpires referred it to the third umpire to check for bump-ball but replays also showed that the ball hit Rahul’s helmet grill when he took the catch. The rules say that no part of protective gears are supposed to come into play while taking a catch. The third umpire gave the decision in the favour of the batsmen. Both New Zealand batsmen brought up their fifties in successive overs just after the incident.
In the last hour of play, Ashwin was looking to have found his magic back with sharp turn and bounce but could not produce a wicket. And then rain came, forcing early stumps and robbed everyone of a session which could have well decided the fate of this Test.