The first day of the Kanpur Test between India and New Zealand ended prematurely due to bad light with India 258/4 after 84 overs. Here’s a look back at the talking points from day one.
JAMIESON STANDS TALL ON ASIAN DEBUT
Three spinners? Wouldn’t that make Mitchell Santner redundant? Which quick to bench? These were the main questions for New Zealand heading into this Test. Dropping Tim Southee, in the absence of Trent Boult, was not an option. So the choice was one from Neil Wagner, that never-ending, untiring fast bowler, and Kyle Jamieson.
Come match day, and after 48 hours of scrunching up their faces while trying to figure out the 22 yards at Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium, New Zealand’s captain and coach opted for Jamieson who in three prior Test matches versus India had claimed 16 wickets at 13 apiece. None of those were in Asia, but New Zealand banked on Jamieson to carry forward the good vibes from Wellington, Christchurch and Southampton. And that he did, in his first Test in Asia.
Using his 6’8″ frame to get something out of the flat deck, Jamieson delivered New Zealand their first two wickets inside 30 overs.
Mayank Agarwal was worked over during a terrific opening spell of 6-2-12-1, during which Jamieson repeatedly had the opener feeling outside off stump. Then came the duping delivery. On a length in the corridor outside off stump, pitching and straightening again to take Agarwal’s feeble edge. Top-drawer stuff from Jamieson, who unlike Southee didn’t experiment much on an unforgiving pitch.
Then, soon after lunch, Jamieson had his second. Last ball of a wicket-maiden over, Shubman Gill pressed forward and paid the price for leaving a gap between bat and pad. Poor judgement from Gill, for this was the third in-cutter from Jamieson in the over. The ball nipped back in and hit the stumps. Jamieson roared, and you too could feel the satisfaction sitting at home on your couch.
PUJARA, RAHANE FAIL TO MAKE IT COUNT
There was more than a sense of déjà vu about the dismissals of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. In the absence of the openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, who decided to skip the first Test, the onus fell on these two senior batsmen to do the bulk of the heavy lifting. Agarwal was opening for the first time in Tests since December 2020, Gill was playing his first Test since June and Shreyas Iyer was on debut.
Pujara did what we’ve become accustomed to seeing him do: soak up a lot of deliveries, look solid while doing so while from the other end another batsman purred, and then get out after the hard work. After facing 88 deliveries for 24 runs, out of nowhere Pujara poked at an outswinger from Southee – a delivery that has caused him grief many times – that pitched outside off. It proved a good move from Williamson, who had just called back his most experienced bowler.
Rahane, leading India in Kohli’s absence, looked far better for his 35 from 63 deliveries. He drove with elegance and tucked off his pads well, and then played a shot that left him shaking his head as we he returned to the dressing room. Tenth ball of another spell, not long before tea, brought Jamieson his third wicket when Rahane, having just successfully reviewed a verdict down the hips, chased at a hint of width and chopped onto the stumps. Rahane cane point to some inconsistent bounce off the track, but the balance was the problem here for it caused the hands to go at the ball in the wrong way.
India’s two most experience batsmen got starts, and frustratingly failed to progress.
IYER ADJUSTS HIS GAME TO SUIT INDIA
This Kanpur surface demanded, like Liam Neeson from the Taken franchise, a very particular set of skills. Watching firstly from the dressing room and then from the nonstriker’s end, the debutant Iyer learned from the success and mistakes of those before him to craft a potentially match-winning innings of 75* off 136 balls.
The wicket of Pujara ushered to the crease the Iyer, whose first Test match came after 54 first-class matches and over 4500 runs. This was his first first-class match in two years, but you could not have told while watching him him bat. Back at Green Park, the venue in 2014 at which, aged 19, Iyer underlined his credentials as a batsman for the future with an innings of 75 from 78 balls when Mumbai were 53/5, Iyer sussed out the up-and-down nature of the pitch very well.
As you expect from a batsman with a first-class strike-rate nearing 82, Iyer initially went for his shots, but as Sunil Gavaskar had advised him when handing him his first India Test cap before the toss, the success lay in judging the situation and each delivery. His first runs in Tests came via an impetuous swipe that landed safely between two fielders in the deep, but Iyer was soon into his groove with a much better pulled boundary.
He left happily, he got forward when defending to the spinners. He drove into the gaps with ease. He wasn’t bogged down by the left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel’s outside-the-leg-stump line – ala Ashley Giles two decades ago, in India – and kept chewing his gum, poker-faced, when beaten or hurried into a shot. This was a very watchful Iyer, and one that showed the success to be had on this pitch.
In the second session, Iyer scored 17 off 55 deliveries. From tea to a premature stumps, he scored 58 from 81. Now and then the natural instinct poked through, of course, but Iyer tempered those with patience. He took some chances against Ajaz and the other slow left-armer Rachin Ravindra, and moments before the teams were taken off at 4:33pm local time, Iyer danced out to deposit Will Somerville over midwicket for his second six.
JADEJA AT SIX OFFERS SOLIDITY
The promotion to No 6 worked well for Ravindra Jadeja, who came to India’s assistance with a stubborn 50* from 100 deliveries that with Iyer revived India from 145/4 to 258/4 by stumps.
Jadeja’s place at No 6 has not always been met with agreement from critics, and yet he continues to do fit into the job with relative ease and now averages 81.75 in nine innings at that position. On day one in Kanpur, the need of the hour was resistance and Jadeja resisted, while also batting with assurance.
His first four came off his sixth delivery faced, when Jamieson tried to pepper him. The second came off his 27th delivery, the third off 52nd, the fourth his 70th and the fifth and sixth off numbers 91 and 92 once he was fully embedded. This was the kind of innings needed after three wickets during the second session and Jadeja once again underlined his credentials as a proper allrounder.