Axar Patel’s 5-wicket haul gives India command in first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur

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Axar Patel helped India make a strong comeback in the first Test

India were ahead by an overall margin of 63 runs at the end of play on the third day of the first Test match being played against New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur, with Axar Patel claiming five wickets to help India take a vital 49-run lead in the first innings. In reply, India were 14/1 in their second innings, having lost opening batsman Shubman Gill (1) to New Zealand all-rounder Kyle Jamieson.

The day began with New Zealand in a strong position of 129/0 in their reply to India’s first innings total of 345. However, unlike on the second day where Indian bowlers had to work extremely hard to try and make breakthroughs, the home team did not have to wait for very long time before the spinners came to play.

New Zealand opening batsman Will Young looked set for a century but Ravichandran Ashwin had him caught behind for 89, which  was followed by fast bowler Umesh Yadav trapping the Kiwis captain Kane Williamson for 18 on a delivery that moved back into the right-hander.

Having taken two wickets in the first session of the play, India had regained confidence as they ran through the New Zealand middle-order in the post lunch session. With KS Bharat keeping the wickets owing to the fact that Wriddhiman Saha was unable to take field due to an injury, the Indian spinners caused a lot of damage to the confidence of the New Zealand batsmen.

The left-arm spinner Axar Patel accounted for the likes of Ross Taylor (11), Henry Nicholls (2), Tom Blundell (13), Tim Southee (5) and Tom Latham (95) to hurt New Zealand badly as they looked set for taking a lead in the first innings.

NZ opener Tom Latham was denied a century when he was stumped by Bharat on a delivery which Axar Patel bowled wide to the batsmen as he came down the wicket to hit it. Taylor was caught behind by Bharat on a delivery that spun away from him whereas Nicholls was trapped in front of the wickets.

New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman Tom Blundell tried to weather the storm with a vigilant innings but a delivery from Patel kept low and crashed into his wickets, which ended his resistance at 13 runs from 94 balls.

The rest of the New Zealand batting could not trouble the scorers much as the visiting side was bowled out for 296 from 142.3 overs, with Axar Patel returning with figures of 34-6-62-5. Ashwin claimed 3/82 from his 42.3 overs whereas Umesh Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja both got one wicket each.

India had a little over half an hour to bat towards the end of the final session on Saturday. With a lead of 49 runs in their kitty, India looked to make a positive start but Jamieson had other plans. The tall New Zealand all-rounder slotted the ball perfectly to send it crashing into the wickets between the gap of Gill’s bat and pad, dismissing the Indian opener for only 1. At stumps, Mayank Agarwal was batting on 4 in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara, who hit two boundaries to make 9 not out.