Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand 1st Test 2021/22

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New Zealand slide from 151 for no loss to 241 for 6 on the second afternoon

Tea New Zealand 249 for 6 (Latham 95, Young 89, Blundell 10*, Jamieson 2*, Axar 3-46) trail India 345 (Iyer 105, Gill 52, Jadeja 50, Southee 5-69, Jamieson 3-91) by 96 runs

Axar Patel picked up three wickets in the afternoon session on day three to put India ahead in the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur.
Bowling with the second new ball, Axar dismissed Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham while conceding only 14 runs in an 11-over spell as New Zealand slipped from 214 for 2 to 227 for 5. In all, the visitors managed only 52 runs in 32.3 overs in the session for the loss of four wickets.
Taylor, who is playing his first international match since the World Test Championship final in June, had a slice of luck early on when he came down the track to Axar only to inside-edge the ball between his legs. But KS Bharat, substituting for Wriddhiman Saha, who has a stiff neck, failed to latch on to it.

Axar, though, wasn’t to be denied for long. A few overs later, he drew Taylor’s outside edge and Bharat didn’t make any mistake this time. In his next over, he had Nicholls lbw as the batter missed the slog sweep. Nicholls reviewed the decision, hoping the impact would be outside the off stump, but it turned out to be umpire’s call.

As wickets fell at one end, Latham inched towards his hundred at the other. He was on 95 when he stepped out to Axar only for the ball to turn, bounce and hit him on the gloves, and bounce towards the wicketkeeper. Bharat collected it and broke the stumps with Latham stranded a fair way down.

Debutant Rachin Ravindra didn’t last long either, as Ravindra Jadeja bowled him through the gate for 13. Tom Blundell and Kyle Jamieson saw out the rest of the session and took New Zealand to tea, still trailing by 96.

India started the day with their two most experienced bowlers, Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin, on a slow and low pitch. Will Young and Latham didn’t find it easy to score against them, though Young skipped down the track against Ashwin a couple of times, hitting him over mid-on for four on one occasion. But, otherwise, both batters were forced to wait for the rare loose delivery.

Luck too seemed to be on New Zealand’s side. Ishant and Ashwin drew the outside edges of Young and Latham respectively, and while Young’s went for four through the gap between wide slip and gully, Latham’s fell short of Ajinkya Rahane at first slip.

With the breakthrough still elusive, Ashwin, who had started the day bowling around the wicket, switched to over the wicket, and that worked, as he ended the 151-run opening stand when Young edged a fuller-length delivery behind the stumps, with Bharat taking an excellent catch staying low. Young fell 11 short of what would have been his maiden Test hundred.

Ashwin could have had Latham too. The bowler did everything right: tossed the ball up, got it to spin past the outside edge and hit the batter on the pad. Umpire Nitin Menon, though, turned down the vociferous appeal for lbw and India chose not to review. Replays showed Latham would have been on his way back had they done so. He was on 66 then.

A little later, Menon and Ashwin were involved in what seemed like a chat about Ashwin’s follow-through. When bowling from around the wicket, the offspinner was delivering from close to the stumps and then moving across towards the left-hander’s leg side to avoid stepping on to the danger area. In the process, he seemed to be obstructing the umpire’s view and that of the non-striker too. India’s coach Rahul Dravid too was seen making a visit to match referee Javagal Srinath’s room.

Kane Williamson had walked in with three men around the bat, and after a few watchful moments, struck two fours in Jadeja’s one over. But in the last over before lunch, Umesh Yadav got one to nip back with the second new ball and pinged Williamson on the back leg. The New Zealand captain decided to review the lbw decision, but replays showed the ball would have hit the top of middle stump.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo