New Zealand and Kane Williamson witnessed Australia lift the trophy of the Twenty20 World Cup in Dubai – without even letting a competition take place. It was another defeat in the finals of an ICC event. But in one format, New Zealand have shown why they are the current champions and which is Test cricket. They might be done and dusted, but they keep on breathing and fight – Kanpur witnessed one of the breathtaking Test matches of this year, where the Kiwis frustrated India and snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat.

India surfaced a test Xi without some of the major players and that included Virat Kohli. Ajinkya Rahane was leading the side and he had no hesitation in electing to bat on a deck that would turn as the day progresses.

Team India played with five specialist batters despite missing Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Kohli and Rishabh Pant – kept the faith in the batting abilities of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin and emphasized on the spinners, who would enjoy a fantastic Test match, until the sturdiness of the Kiwis showed up.

The debutante Shreyas Iyer scored a cultured half-century and put on an unbroken 113 for the fifth wicket with Jadeja to lift India out of a tricky situation midway through day one and put them in control.

At stumps on Day 1, India were 258 for 4 with Iyer batting on 75, his last scoring shot of the day a six over midwicket off Will Somerville, which convinced New Zealand to go off for bad light rather than bowl more spin to complete the 90-over requirement for the day.

Jadeja, meanwhile, had just reached his 17th half-century in Test cricket.

On day 2, Tim Southee delivered one of the great Test-match spells by a visiting fast bowler in India to drag New Zealand back into the Kanpur Test, before Will Young and Tom Latham put on a resolute and unbroken 129 to ensure all four results were still in play after two engrossing days.

Southee picked up four wickets in an unbroken spell of 11 overs on the second morning to complete his 13th five-wicket haul in Test cricket and his second in India.

After being bowled out for 345, India tried their best to breach the New Zealand batting order, but their five bowlers failed.

While the ball occasionally gripped and turned square, and more often kept low, the slowness of the surface allowed the batters to adjust and survive.

Starting the day at 258 for 4 with two half-centurions at the crease, India were bowled out for the addition of only 87 runs. The bulk of those runs came from Shreyas Iyer, who became the 16th India batter to score a century on debut, and Ashwin, who made a counterattacking 38 at number eight.

“When I came to Kanpur, I didn’t know I was going to play,” Iyer said to the reporters.

“Rahul sir [Dravid, the coach] and skipper [Ajinkya Rahane] came to me and said I was going to play [after KL Rahul was ruled out]. Suddenly I had to get into the mindset of red-ball cricket.”

“The last match I played was almost three years back, which was Irani Trophy. I took this as an opportunity and a challenge as well. Once you play white-ball cricket for so long, getting back to red-ball cricket is a different ball game. The mindset and routine has to be on point. That’s what I focused on rather than thinking about how I am going to play and thinking about who I am going to face on the ground.”

“All these thoughts I completely negated. I focused more on my processes. I knew I had the skill. Rahul sir and Ajinkya motivated me a lot. They told me you don’t have to change anything because you have played this game before. You have played Ranji Trophy so well, scored so many runs with a really good average. That was my mindset coming to the ground.”

“Sunil Gavaskar sir, when he gave me the cap, told me one important point,” Iyer said.

‘You don’t have to think about your past, you don’t have to think about your future. All you have got is present, and you have got to focus on the next ball.’ That’s what I have been doing throughout. So my aim is to think about today, not think about the next game. If I think about that, I wouldn’t be able to perform on the given day. Whatever happens – happens for the best, and I will take it in my stride and move forward.”

On Day 3, the Indian spinners reaped a rich harvest.

Axar Patel picked up a fifth five-wicket haul in his fourth Test to help India bowl New Zealand out for 296 and take a first-innings lead of 49.

On a Kanpur pitch where the ball was keeping low from time to time, Axar reaped the benefit of targeting the stumps and finished with figures of 5 for 62.

The Indian openers needed to survive five overs before the close of play.

Kyle Jamieson, though, disturbed the timber of Shubman Gill with the first ball of the second over and reached 50 wickets in only his ninth Test.

In doing so, he bettered Shane Bond’s New Zealand record by three matches. The overall record belongs to Charlie Turner of Australia, who took his 50th wicket in his sixth Test.

Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara took India to stumps, extending their lead to 63.

On Day 4, hreyas Iyer followed up his 105 in the first innings with 65 to help India set New Zealand a target of 284 in the first Test in Kanpur. He was well-supported by Wriddhiman Saha, who struck an unbeaten 61 after being off the field with a stiff neck on day three.

In the morning session, Southee, Jamieson and Ajaz Patel had reduced India to 51 for 5, but Iyer and Ashwin exhibited composure with a 52-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Then, Iyer and Saha added 64 for the seventh wicket to take India’s lead past 200.

Iyer was caught down the leg side off Southee in the last over before tea but Saha and Axar Patel dashed any hopes New Zealand might have had of keeping the target under 250.

Both of them added 67 runs in 20.4 overs in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand.

India finally declared on 234 for 7, and in the four overs possible before bad light forced stumps, Ashwin dismissed Will Young lbw with the one that kept low.

The final day at Kanpur is a part of Test cricket folklore.

William Somerville and Tom Latham were very impressive with the way they batted. New Zealand did not lose a single wicket in the first session of Day 5 and there would have been plenty of nerves in the Indian camp. But after Lunch, things turned around. Somerville fell and Latham too had to walk back to the hut.

Before tea, the dismissal of Ross Taylor was telling blow while Williamson was the lone man standing.

Indian spinners ruled the roost post Tea.

Patel started things off by taking the wicket of Henry Nicholls and that triggered a collapse.

Jadeja was the main bowler in the last session though as his 3 wickets in that session put India just 1 wicket away from a memorable victory.

Two of the finest spinners from India tried and tested all their experience and skill sets to dismantle the last pair of New Zealand – debutante Rachin Ravindra and Aijaz Patel.

The ball was keeping low; the turn was sharp and threatening like a spitting Cobra, the fielders were close and were waiting for a catch as if vultures were waiting for their prey – but nothing could deter the last pair of New Zealand.

Bad light prompted an early finish – New Zealand survived the scare and scripted one of the greatest escapes in their cricketing history.

Patel was not on 6 facing 5 balls while Rachin faced 91 balls for his valuable 18 runs.

“It has been touch and go around this time throughout this Test. The Indian side is a formidable one, they were on top for the large part but we hung around. All three results were in play but we fought hard and showed the fight on the last day. Rachin is a top-order batter, but is not experienced in these conditions. The two fast players we played were outstanding, kept bowling long overs and kept us in the game. We know this Indian side is a very strong one in all departments, so we have to be at our best all the time. As a bowling attack, getting overs under the belt was good. We will play in Mumbai on a different surface, so we need to prepare differently,” said Williamson at the presentation ceremony.

Meanwhile Rahane said, “[on the timing of the declaration] Not really, we tried our best. They played really well. I think the way we came back in the second session was good. The fast bowlers too bowled really well. We wanted to get that partnership going, put some runs on board. Saha and Axar batted really well. Before that Shreyas and Ashwin’s partnership was crucial. We wanted to bowl four overs yesterday and 90-95 in all. [on chat with the umpires towards the end] It was about the light. I think the umpires made the right call regarding light. [On having three spinners] Sometimes it feels, am I giving Ashwin too few overs? Am I bowling Axar too much? I am really happy for Shreyas, the way he has worked on his game. Virat will come back for the Mumbai Test. I will not make any comments, the management will take the call.”

The draw at Kanpur breaks a sequence of 12 successive result Tests in India, the second-longest such streak. Between 1988 and 1994, there were 13 successive results in Tests in India.


India were 12-1 in those Tests, with the only defeat coming against NZ in Mumbai, which was the last time they won a Test in India.

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