IND vs NZ | 1st Test: Indian spinners denied by light as gritty Kiwis eke out hard-earned draw

Abhishek Singh

| Nov 29, 1:04 PM

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There was drama aplenty in Kanpur as Indian spinners tried their level best to get the last New Zealand wicket and go 1-0 up in the two-match Test series at home against the reigning World Test Champions. But the light meter, handled carefully by the on field-umpires Nitin Menon and Virender Sharma kept getting out of their pockets and disrupted the flow of the game in the last half an hour. 

The Indian spinners were not only fighting against the batters but also the fading light and time. Having gotten nine wickets with nine overs remaining, it was sure that India would be winning from thereon. But credit must also be given to Ajaz Patel on how well he accompanied Rachin Ravindra, who was the main reason why this heard-earned draw. 

Ravindra-Ajaz rescue act

With six close-in fielders waiting for even the slightest of chances and having seen his predecessors fold like a pack of cards, it would have not been easy for Ravindra, who was making his Test debut in this game. 

For Ajaz, it would have been doubly difficult, but the focus in the eyes of the two batters was evident, they always played on the front foot, not making a mistake of being on the backfoot that their predecessors made. There were was a solid defence initially, a few lucky escapes and also a sharp chance going down in the penultimate over of the day, but all that cannot take away the gentleman-ship shown by the New Zealand team and their batters at the crease.

Not even once there was even a try from the dressing room to throw in a towel or gloves or drinks to try and delay the game. Nor did the batsmen at the crease try anything fancy like asking for gloves or untying shoelaces, it was pure determination that got them to the draw. 

Comeback from the Indian spinners

However, before this rescue act, there was a superb comeback from the Indian spinners as they took five wickets in the last session and got players like Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to commit mistakes in situations they could have avoided. 

At 118-2 with Tom Latham and Williamson all settled at the crease, a draw was looking like the only possibility until Ravichandran Ashwin a loopy outside off delivery to break the concentration of Latham. He chanced on to it and chopped it on just after completing his second fifty in the game. 

That dismissal opened the doors for the Indian spinners and they hurried through, soon Taylor was out as well before Tea. Now India were to get six wickets in the last session and they started off well with Axar Patel getting the wicket of Henry Nicholls. Williamson followed suit after a very low-keeping Jadeja delivery crashed into his pads. 

Tom Blundell tried hard to deliver as vice-captain and get the draw. He got a partnership going with Ravindra, but a very stranger dismissal ruled him out. Blundell defended the off spinner from Ravi Ashwin which hit the rough patch in the wicket, bounced backwards and collided with the bails. 

Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee were removed in an identical manner by Jadeja, but the two also derailed India’s victory and every ball played by every batter in the end counted. 

The willpower of Will Somerville

If every ball played counted as a criterion to be judged, then William Somerville the nightwatchman who was sent last evening to protect Tom Latham from getting out after the unfortunate dismissal of Will Young should be given the winner’s award. 

He not only played out the last evening but with his dogged approach made sure that Kiwis didn’t lose even a single wicket in the morning session. Had it not been for an attacking approach pots Lunch, where he tried to pull Umesh Yadav and was caught in the deep by Shubman Gill, no one knows how long he would have tired down the Indian spinners. 

In total, the 37-year-old played 110 balls for his 36 runs and gave belief to the batters sitting in the dugout that it was possible to get this match drawn. 

With this win, the Kiwis added four crucial points to their World Test Championship 2021-23 Points Table. The caravan of the series would now move to Mumbai where it will culminate with the last Tets on red soil wicket which wouldn’t be the toughest play to play at for the Kiwis who like pace and bounce. 

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