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PICS: Last New Zealand pair deny India victory in 1st Test

Source: PTI
Last updated on: November 29, 2021 17:13 IST
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Images from Day 5 of the first Test between India and New Zealand, at Green Park in Kanpur, on Monday. 

Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel run a quick single during their gutsy last-wicket stand, which enabled New Zealand draw the first Test against India, in Kanpur, on Monday.

IMAGE: Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel run a quick single during their gutsy last-wicket stand, which enabled New Zealand draw the first Test against India, in Kanpur, on Monday. Photograph: BCCI

India-born cricketers Ajaz Patel and Rachin Ravindra showed remarkable resilience under fading light on a deteriorating track to defy India's spinners and earn New Zealand a thrilling draw in the first Test, at Green Park in Kanpur, on Monday.

The Indian spinners, led by Ravindra Jadeja, put up one of their most persevering performances in recent times but Mumbai-born Patel (2 off 23 balls) and Karnataka-born Ravindra (18 not out off 91 balls) consumed 8.4 overs after the fall of the ninth wicket to keep New Zealand on even keel in the two-match series.

 

A lot of credit should also go to night-watchman Will Somerville (36 off 110 balls), who batted through the entire fifth morning to raise hopes of an improbable draw.

A match lasting five days on an Indian spin-friendly track impressed newly-appointed national head coach Rahul Dravid, who announced Rs 35,000 as a token of appreciation for the ground staff.

Axar Patel appeals successfully for leg before wicket against Henry Nicholls .

IMAGE: Axar Patel appeals successfully for leg before wicket against Henry Nicholls . Photograph: BCCI

"We were bowling in good areas, we knew we had time but light was always going to come into play in the last session. It happened every day of the match," senior India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said after the exhausting day.

A victory target of 284 was always out of the question but the gutsy New Zealanders did not lose any wicket in the first session of the last morning before the Indian spinners, who had saved their best for last, finally showed their skills but couldn't end on a winning note.

India's players celebrate as Kane Williamson is trapped leg before wicket by Ravindra Jadeja.

IMAGE: India's players celebrate as Kane Williamson is trapped leg before wicket by Ravindra Jadeja. Photograph: BCCI

The result at Green Park is the first time that New Zealand has gone 10 Test matches undefeated (eight wins, two draws) with the current streak starting against India at the start of 2020.

The last half an hour was a thriller, with umpires Nitin Menon and Virender Sharma checking light and Ravindra appreciating Patel for every copybook forward defensive stroke.

Ashwin (30-12-35-3), Jadeja (28-10-40-4) and Axar Patel (21-12-23-1) had to really push hard but it once again showed that Indian spinners might not be completely effective on tracks that don't start cracking from at the least second day.

Tom Blundell is bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin.

IMAGE: Tom Blundell is bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin. Photograph: BCCI

There was low bounce for sure but the slow turn made it easy to negotiate and also the failure of the two senior pacers put immense pressure on the spin troika who still took 17 of the 19 Kiwi wickets to fall. But they couldn't take the all-important final one.

It was one of India's most hard-fought Test matches at home in recent times and no one would grudge the 'Good Men' from New Zealand again showing their wares in adversity.

The only thing that went in favour of India was the low bounce as defending for very long period wasn't an option.

Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with his India teammates after dismissing Tom Blundell.

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with his India teammates after dismissing Tom Blundell. Photograph: BCCI

After this draw, there are some probing questions for the team going into the next Test.

There will be serious question marks regarding stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane's place in the playing eleven with skipper Virat Kohli coming back in the next game.

Veteran pacer Ishant Sharma (22 wicket-less overs in match) is looking completely off-colour since England and his place in the eleven ought to be questioned.

Morning session

New Zealand opener Tom Latham bats during Day 5 of the first Test against India, at Green Park in Kanpur, on Monday.

IMAGE: New Zealand opener Tom Latham, who scored 52 off 146 balls, bats during the morning session on Day 5. Photograph: BCCI

Night-watchman William Somerville defied India’s bowling attack with some gutsy batting alongside senior opener Tom Latham as New Zealand took the honours in the first session on Day 5, reaching 79 for 1 in chase of 284 at lunch.

A minimum of 60 overs remain in the next two sessions in which India need to get nine wickets and New Zealand 205 runs.

Somerville, unbeaten on 36 off 109 balls at the break, Latham, batting on 35 off 96 balls, added 76 runs for the unbroken second-wicket stand as the track hardly offered any significant help to the Indian spinners, save one delivery from Ravindra Jadeja (6-0-11-0).

India pacer Ishant Sharma receives medical attention after hurting his finger while fielding.

IMAGE: India pacer Ishant Sharma receives medical attention after hurting his finger while fielding. Photograph: BCCI

That delivery turned back sharply into Latham after being pitched on the rough created outside the off-stump by bowler's footmarks. India took the review but replays showed the ball did not pitch in line.

Otherwise, the duo weren’t really perturbed by the Indian spinners, who found it difficult to create chances.

It also didn't help that fast bowlers Ishant Sharma (4-0-13-0) and Umesh Yadav (6-0-25-0) bowled in complete contrast to what their Kiwi counterparts Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson did on the same pitch.

William Somerville plays a defensive stroke.

IMAGE: Night-watchman William Somerville plays a defensive stroke early in the morning session on Day 5. Photograph: BCCI

Just like he looked when in England, Ishant's run-up was gingerly and not for once during the morning spell did he look in rhythm. He and Umesh tried the short-ball tactic to the unfancied Somerville but the batter swayed and ducked without any discomfort and also played the rising delivery with soft hands.

Somerville, who basically comes in at No 10, hit Umesh for three boundaries and after that gained a lot of confidence. Out of the three, the first one was a drive and the other two fierce cut shots as the bowler dropped short and also gave width.

Shubman Gill watches anxiously as Ajinkya Rahane fails to latch on to a difficult chance from William Somerville.

IMAGE: Shubman Gill watches anxiously as Ajinkya Rahane fails to latch on to a difficult chance from William Somerville. Photograph: BCCI

Latham, who scored 95 in the first innings, once again brought his high quality defensive game against the spinners but at the same time did not hesitate in sweeping Jadeja for a boundary.

Somerville's confident approach also rubbed in on Latham, who gave him a lot of strike.

The desperation of Indian bowlers was visible when Ravichandran Ashwin (12-2-19-1) bowled to Somerville with four close-in fielders, including three on leg-side -- a backward short leg, a forward short-leg and a silly mid-on -- but Somerville defended well to his credit.

Post-Lunch session

Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with Cheteshwar Pujara after dismissing Tom Latham.

IMAGE: India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates with Cheteshwar Pujara after dismissing New Zealand’s Tom Latham. Photograph: BCCI

Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin became India's third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket as New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson stood between hosts and victory, taking his team to 125 for 4 at tea.

New Zealand need 159 runs more in 31.5 overs to win the match.

Williamson (batting on 24 off 97 balls) will be looking at a draw, which will be creditable enough for the Black Caps, as they go into the final session with six wickets in hand.

Shubman Gill is congratulated by his India teammates after taking the catch, off Umesh Yadav's bowling, to dismiss William Somerville.

IMAGE: Shubman Gill is congratulated by his India teammates after taking the catch, off Umesh Yadav's bowling, to dismiss William Somerville. Photograph: BCCI

If the first session belonged to New Zealand, who did not lose a single wicket, the second was certainly India's after Umesh Yadav (1 for 34 in 12 overs) removed night-watchman Will Somerville (36 off 110 balls) with a short delivery soon after play resumed after lunch.

Shubman Gill also deserves credit for that wicket, as he took a fine catch, diving forward at the long leg boundary.

Tom Latham is bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin.

IMAGE: Tom Latham is bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin. Photograph: BCCI

Williamson looked way more confident than during his first innings effort as he hit a cover drive off Ishant Sharma (0-20 in 7 overs), who was completely off-colour on the day.

Ross Taylor (2) never looked comfortable and, at stroke of tea, Ravindra Jadeja (1 for 21 in 11.1 overs) finally bowled one that rattled his stumps.

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates after dismissing Ross Taylor.

IMAGE: Ravindra Jadeja celebrates after dismissing Ross Taylor. Photograph: BCCI

Tom Latham (52 off 146 balls) scored another half-century before Ashwin's (20-6-28-2) delivery kept low and he dragged it onto the stumps.

With that scalp, Ashwin, playing his 80th Test, went past Harbhajan Singh (417 in 103 games) to become India’s third highest wicket-taker in the five-day format.

"I would like to congratulate Ashwin on his milestone. Well done and hope he wins many more matches for India," Harbhajan said.

"I never believed in comparisons. We played our best cricket in different times, against different opposition. I had done my best for the country back then and ditto for Ashwin; he did his best now," added the former India spinner.

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