Racin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel made up for their ordinary bowling as they defied India for more than eight overs to stage a great escape in Kanpur. The visitors were nine down and staring at a defeat, but it never came as India failed to pick a wicket for 52 balls. With light fading, the hosts were already under pressure but they bowled their heart out to trigger a mini collapse after tea where New Zealand lost five wickets in space of thirty runs. They only stopped short of delivering the sucker punch which was needed desperately. All in all, it was a thrilling match with the Kiwis, who won the World Test Championship, living upto the billing of the most underrated Test sides. Teams now head to Mumbai for the second and final Test.
The game reminded many fans of a slow burner where all the three results remained possible right till the Tea Break. New Zealand remained defiant in the first session, not giving away a single wicket; nonetheless, they failed to avert a mini-collapse just after the Tea where they lost skipper Kane Williamson. Earlier, right at the edge of tea, it was their senior batter Ross Taylor who had got out to an excellent delivery from Ravindra Jadeja. Yes, it was Jadeja who actually made a possible India win scenario possible. Although the credit must go to Ashwin (3-35) as he helped remove dangerman Tom Latham for 52, it was Jadeja’s street-smart bowling which accounted for Taylor and Williamson that actually knocked the probability of a Kiwi win. Untill this point the Kiwis were firmly in charge.
New Zealand, on the other end, lived up to the billing of giant killers. After being 4/1, the bookies wouldn’t have imagined an utter defiance of India’s all mighty line up which was dished out early on fifth day. It was not that Kiwis were superb, the Kanpur pitch aided them as well. The wicket remained true and cracks never really developed; therefore, spinners failed to extract the necessary turn and the batters had a field day. Rahane’s men also kept bowling at the fourth stump, knowing fully well that in such a scenario bowling full-right at legs could have been a better option. But adversity didn’t rattle the hosts in the first innings in a carbon-copy scenario where openers Latham and Will Young gave nothing away; instead, India just outplayed them with patience. And patience rewarded them yet again when Umesh Yadav removed night watchman Will Somerville right after Lunch break. The Kiwis were determined, but once Latham was dismissed, India were right back in this one.
The final session saw India spinners getting rewarded for their patience as the visitors lost wickets in a flurry-four of them coming in just one hour. NZ were 125/4, they became 147/8 in no time. Yet, it wasn’t over as the hosts had ten overs to seal the deal; moreover, the fading light only made the matters urgent. Unfortunately, none of the spinners-be it Jadeja, Ashwin or Patel-were able to deliver the sucker punch.