The world test champions don’t appear keen to hand over their crown.
New Zealand reached stumps on day two of the first cricket test against the hosts in Kanpur in a hugely promising position following one of their most fruitful days among a long history of home team dominance in tests in India.
A marvellous bowling stint from Tim Southee helped NZ dismiss India in their first innings for 345 shortly after lunch.
In reply, Will Young was unbeaten on 75 and Tom Latham with him on 50 not out to leave their side in the pink at Green Park at 129 without loss as bad light brought a slightly premature end to Friday’s proceedings.
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It was the first game in the new World Test Championship series for the Black Caps after their victory in the inaugural competition’s final over against India in Southampton in June.
With just two wins in their test history in India, the visitors were considered big underdogs for the first test of the two-test series despite the hosts resting a number of star players. But even without first-choice test players Trent Boult and Devon Conway, New Zealand put themselves in a glorious spot to apply pressure on India’s second innings if they can continue their solidity with the bat on day three.
Black Caps and India fight out an even first day of the first cricket test in Kanpur.
Southee took four wickets in the first session and ended with 5-69 from 27.4 overs after the hosts had resumed their first innings at 258-4 at a smoggy Green Park.
Kanpur is regarded as one of the most polluted cities in the world and the Air Quality Index was reported as climbing into the ‘hazardous’ zone for the players after the smog was also prevalent on day one.
That didn’t stop Southee from shining through as the 32-year-old notched his 13th five-wicket bag in test cricket and took his career haul to 319 scalps. He sits behind only Sir Richard Hadlee (431) and Daniel Vettori (362) in the list of most test wickets for NZ.
Shreyas Iyer was the standout with the bat for India, making a century on test debut before becoming one of Southee’s victims.
The 26-year-old made 105 from 171 balls to be the mainstay of a batting line-up missing star performers Virat Kohli, Rohit Shama and KL Rahul, striking 13 fours and two sixes.
New Zealand’s day got better when Young and Latham made the seventh century opening partnership for NZ in India and remained unbowed at stumps.
Young replaced the injured Devon Conway as Latham’s opening partner after the left-hander knocked himself out of the T20 World Cup final and the two tests with a broken hand.
In just his fourth test, the 29-year-old faced 180 balls for his unbeaten 75 as he eyes his first test ton, while Latham – who has 11 test centuries – brought up his half-century late on day two after some adventures with the umpiring.
Young has long been seen as a successor to fellow Central Districts batter Ross Taylor as a middle-order bat in the national side, but with Taylor still performing at 37, he’s had very few opportunities.
He made his test debut against the West Indies in Hamilton in December 2020 as an opener, making five in NZ’s only turn at bat after Tom Blundell was given the wicketkeeping duties with BJ Watling injured.
In his previous test appearance prior to Kanpur, the elegant right-hander made an impressive 83 in the first innings of NZ’s series-clinching second test win over England at Edgbaston when batting at No 3 in place of injured skipper Kane Williamson.
He and his left-handed opening partner got quietly through the opening overs from the quicks and then negated India’s vaunted three-pronged spin threat of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Latham – who was twice given out lbw early in his knock before earning deserved reprieves via the review system as he inside-edged both balls onto his pads – was content to play the anchor as Young ensured NZ weren’t tied down by producing an array of quality shots off the front and back foot.
Latham made it a hat-trick of successful reviews late in the final session after again being adjudged out to make it a day to forget for the hosts and one to cherish for the Black Caps.
India 345 (S Iyer 105, S Gill 52, R Jadeja 50; T Southee 5-69, K Jamieson 3-91) versus New Zealand 129-0 (W Young 75 not out, T Latham 50 not out) at stumps on day two.