New Zealand face battle to avoid defeat against India in first Test

Tourists set challenging target of 284 for victory at Kanpur's Green Park Stadium

India's Shreyas Iyer continued his debut to remember by sealing a second 50-plus knock against New Zealand to put the home side in charge of the first Test at Kanpur's Green Park Stadium.

Iyer followed his first-innings hundred with a crucial 65, forging 50-plus stands with Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha to revive India who declared their second innings on 234-7.

Chasing a daunting victory target of 284 on a worn-out track, the tourists were 4-1 when bad light stopped play on Sunday after opener Will Young was given lbw off the bowling of Ashwin.

It was a memorable Test debut for Iyer who was selected only after several frontline batsmen, including regular skipper Virat Kohli, were rested.

Following his hundred in the first innings, Iyer's half-century in the second innings came off 125 deliveries and included eight fours and a six.

Sunil Gavaskar was the last Indian batsman to score 50-plus in both innings of his debut Test, a feat he managed against the West Indies in 1971.

“I had been in this situation before as well in domestic cricket. My mind set was to play the session and play as many balls as possible. I wasn’t thinking too far ahead,” Iyer said.

He also became the first Indian batsman to score a hundred and a half-century on his Test debut.

“It feels good [to have that record] but the most important thing is to win the match. We felt that 250 including the first innings lead would have been a good score, so we’re very happy with where we are now,” Iyer added.

Earlier, New Zealand's Tim Southee (3-75) struck twice in three balls in the morning session as they blew away India's top order after the home side had resumed on 14-1.

Kyle Jamieson (3-40) conceded a couple of early boundaries before he dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 22, to open the flood gates.

Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel further pegged back India when he trapped stand-in home captain Ajinkya Rahane leg before wicket for four with an arm-ball that kept low.

Southee then twisted the knife by removing opener Mayank Agarwal, caught in the slip, and Ravindra Jadeja, trapped lbw, in a two-wicket maiden over to reduce India to 51-5.

Iyer and Ashwin, who made 32, not only steadied the innings but also scored briskly to put the pressure back on New Zealand.

Iyer departed on the stroke of tea but Saha soldiered on despite a stiff neck that kept him off the field on Saturday.

Saha remained not out on 61, having featured in a second 50-plus partnership with Axar Patel who made 28 not out before India declared.

“I think all three results are possible,” New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi told reporters. “If we bat with some good intent and make the most of opportunities to score them, then we certainly believe we can chase them down.

“From the Indian point of view, they'll be going full of confidence that they can stop us from doing that.”

Updated: November 28th 2021, 12:46 PM