India in complete command of 1st Test at Kanpur against New Zealand

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Indian players appeal for a successful leg-before decision against Will Young

India needed nine more wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the ongoing two-match Test series against New Zealand after the visitors were set a target of 284 runs to win on the fourth day of the first match being played at Green Park stadium in Kanpur.

Shreyas Iyer created history with a superb knock of 65 from 125 balls whereas wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha contributed with a splendid 61 not out as India declared their second innings at 234/7, with an overall lead of 283 runs in the second innings. New Zealand were bowled out for 296 in their first innings after India made 345.

India resumed play on day four with Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal at the crease. The home team were rocked early when Pujara was caught behind by Tom Blundell off Kyle Jamieson for 22, which came from 33 balls with the help of three boundaries. Pujara failed to fend off a short ball which brushed his gloves and went straight to the wicket-keeper.

India slipped further when left-arm New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel trapped their stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane in front of the wicket for 4, which left India reeling at 41/3 at one stage. There was further trouble in store for the Indian team when Tim Southee produced an edge to remove the right-hand opening batsman Mayank Agarwal for 17 from 53 balls with three boundaries.

This was when the pair of Iyer and Ravichandran Ashwin got together to stabilise the Indian innings. Iyer and Ashwin added 52 runs for the fifth wicket from 118 balls to consolidate for India, which was followed by another strong couple of stands which only kept on getting better. 

Iyer added 64 runs with Saha for the sixth wicket, and after the debutant batsmen was dismissed for 65, the senior player in Saha went on to add another 67 runs for the seventh wicket with all-rounder Akshar Patel. 

Iyer became the first ever batsman from India to have scored a century and a half-century on his Test debut, after he made 65 in the second innings which followed a splendid 105 in the first. Iyer faced 125 balls to make 65 with the help of eight boundaries and 16, displaying a rich talent of strokes all around the ground.

Saha was absolutely rock solid for India lower in the order as he made 61 not out from 126 balls with the help of four boundaries and one six. Additionally, after disappointing with the bat in the first innings, all-rounder Akshar Patel also found his rhythm in the middle with the bat to make 28 not out from 67 balls with two boundaries and one six.

With less than 30 minutes’ time left in the display on Sunday, India declared to invite the Kiwis to bat for a few overs. There was a controversy of sorts in the third over of the contest when Ashwin got a positive result from a leg-before appeal against Will Young, with the New Zealand batsman being late by a few seconds to ask for a DRS review which would have eventually saved him.