1st Test day 4: India ahead with a gritty stand - all to play on day 5 for New Zealand

Sunday, 28 November 2021 - 17:53

Stumps New Zealand 296 and 4 for 1 (Latham 2*, Somerville 0*, Ashwin 1-3) trail India 345 and 234 for 7 dec (Iyer 65, Saha 61*, Jamieson 3-40, Southee 3-75) by 280 runs

Debutant Shreyas Iyer showed his ice-cool temperament under pressure to stand tall with a fine half-century which placed India in a commanding position as they set up a stiff victory target of 284 for New Zealand on the fourth day of the opening Test here on Sunday.

India declared at 234 for 7 for an overall lead of 283 and gave the Black Caps four tricky overs to face under fading light during which they managed four runs and lost opener Will Young to Ravichandran Ashwin.

With that scalp, Ashwin became the joint third highest wicket-taker in Indian cricket with Harbhajan Singh (417 wickets).

The highest ever fourth innings chase by a visiting team in India is 276 by Viv Richards' West Indies against the Dilip Vengsarkar-led India in 1987 at the Feroz Shah Kotla, which placed statistics on the home team's side.

The honours for India on the day were shared by Iyer (65 off 125 balls), who became the first Indian to score a hundred and fifty on debut and the plucky Wriddhiman Saha (61 not out, 126 balls), who battled stiff neck to make an invaluable contribution which will certainly count a lot in the final context of the match.

Axar Patel (28 not out) then conjured another 67-run eighth-wicket stand with Saha to slowly take the match out of the Black Caps' grasp.

If New Zealand are still in the match, credit must go to their tireless seam bowling duo of Tim Southee (22-2-75-3) and Kyle Jamieson (17-6-40-3), who showed an exhibition of top class bowling on an unresponsive track.

However, it will now depend on how much time it takes for India's spin bowlers to roll over New Zealand, whose openers showed a lot of gumption on the second afternoon and third morning.

Also if skipper Williamson can do something mind-blowing with the willow, there might just be a great contest on the cards.