After months of riveting action in the shortest format of the game, the finalists of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship, India and New Zealand, rekindled their rivalry in red-ball cricket starting today, November 25th, at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, the new-look opening combination of Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill walked out to the middle. The duo stitched a 21-run stand for the first wicket before Agarwal was caught behind courtesy of a sublime delivery from Kyle Jamieson. The right-arm pacer was the pick of the bowlers for the Kiwis on the first day and scalped three wickets to dent the opposition.
The Indian team were reeling at 106/3 when debutant Shreyas Iyer walked in to bat. Along with Ravindra Jadeja, the right-handed batter forged a crucial 113-run partnership for the fifth wicket to guide the home team to 258/4 on Day 1. En route their scintillating stand, Shreyas recorded his maiden half-century to remain unbeaten on 75 with seven boundaries and two sixes.
A moment to savour for Shreyas Iyer
Minutes before the toss, Shreyas received his Test cap from the legendary Sunil Gavaskar to become the 303rd player to feature for India in the longest format. He was one of the most prolific run-scorers for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy before making his debut for the Indian side in the shorter forms. While he last featured in the first-class game back in 2019, his exploits in the white-ball format helped him seal his spot in the playing XI for this test.
450 Test matches for the Kiwis
The ongoing Test match marks a special game in the glorious history of the Black Caps as they became the fifth team to play 450 games in Test Cricket. The Kiwis have won 107 Tests, constituting a win percentage of 23.7 in this format.
However, the numbers do not suggest their dominance in the past couple of years. The Black Caps have been consistent performers at the international stage and are the reigning champions of the World Test Championship.
Pujara breaches 6k mark
One of the batting mainstays for India, Cheteshwar Pujara achieved a rare feat as he became the sixth player to score 6000 runs batting at number three. En route his knock of 26 runs, the right-hander became the second Indian player after Rahul Dravid (10524) to breach the 6k mark at number three. Kumar Sangakkara is at top of the list with 11679 runs, followed by the Head Coach of the Indian side, Rahul Dravid. The 33-year old will hope to continue his form and end his century drought in the upcoming innings.
Skipper endures a dismal season
In the absence of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane is leading the Indian team in the first Test match. While he was brilliant with his astute leadership in the away series against Australia, Rahane has been under tremendous pressure for the lack of runs this season. In 20 innings played thus far, the right-handed batter has scored 407 runs at an average of 20.35, which is the second-worst among players with a minimum of 15 innings. Dominic Sibley has endured a torrid run and scored 256 runs at an average of 19.78, which is the worst.