New Zealand’s Rachin Ravindra helped his side earn a thrilling draw on debut in the first test versus India in Kanpur.
Rachin Ravindra will always remember his first test.
The 22-year-old New Zealand allrounder staved off 91 balls from India’s spinners to help earn his side a thrilling draw in the first test against India on Monday.
The debutant, named after two of India’s greatest batters, finished not out on 18 under extreme pressure to help the Black Caps score a meritorious draw when India looked likely to wrap up victory in the dying stages.
Black Caps No.11 Ajaz Patel managed to remain unbeaten from 23 balls to combine with 22-year-old allrounder Ravindra to deny India victory as bad light brought the end of play with India still likely to have two more overs to get the last wicket before time expired.
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New Zealand began the final day needing 284 for an unlikely victory, with the more likely goal being to bat out the day for the hard-fought draw they eventually grabbed.
After a solid start which saw opener Tom Latham and nightwatcher Will Somerville bat through the first session, Ravichandran Ashwin (3-35) and Ravindra Jadeja (4-40) put NZ in a spin in the latter stages and seemed set to secure victory for the hosts before NZ’s last-wicket stand.
The draw halted a string of six test defeats for NZ in India, stretching back to 2010.
It also meant the world test champions began their title defence with a draw against the side they triumphed over in June’s final, giving them four points to start their new campaign.
The visitors had been set the only target fewer than 300 runs set by an Indian side declaring before day five of a men’s test, with the hosts expecting their spinners to have the same success they did in the second half of NZ’s first innings.
But NZ got a half-century from Latham, an unexpected 36 from Somerville at No.3 and 24 off 112 balls from captain Kane Wiliamson before Ravindra and Patel provided the final piece of stubborn resistance.
New Zealand resumed the fifth and final day at 4-1 following the controversial dismissal of opener Will Young late on the penultimate day.
Somerville batted with Latham for the entire first session with few concerns and utmost control throughout the first session as NZ reached lunch at 79-1.
The 37-year-old off-spinner, who had lasted for 52 balls in the first innings, faced 109 balls in the second before surprisingly hooking the first ball he faced after lunch off Umesh Yadav and Shubman Gill made a fine sprawling catch at long leg.
Will Young was a second too late seeking a review of his dismissal late on day four of the first test between NZ and India.
But Williamson and Latham saw out the rest of the hour with only the occasional bother, including a wonderful delivery from paceman Umesh Yadav which just missed the edge of the captain’s bat and his off stump when Williamson was on 1.
Latham batted for 282 balls to make 95 in the first innings and was past the halfway stage in both aspects on Monday when he tried to drive Ashwin off the back foot and got an inside edge onto his off stump.
Veteran Ross Taylor never looked comfortable before falling lbw in the over before the tea break, meaning the visitors only had six wickets up their sleeve for the final session and that quickly became five after the resumption when Henry Nicholls badly missed an Axar Patel delivery and then wasted a review on the clear lbw decision.
The wicket the hosts desired most was that of NZ captain Kane Williamson and that came in the final session when he played back to a short ball from Jadeja that kept low and struck him on the pads in front of his stumps.
Wicketkeeper-batter Tom Blundell was incredibly unlucky to have a defensive shot fall off his bat onto the worn pitch and spin back onto his stumps as it seemed NZ’s tail was going to be unable to stave off the Indian spin attack.
But Ravindra and Patel did so, with the aid of the fading light in the smog-filled city.
Ashwin’s three wickets helped him become the third-most prolific test wicket-taker for India, behind only Anil Kumble (619) and Kapil Dev (434).
The second test starts in Mumbai on Friday.
India 345 and 234-7 declared drew with New Zealand 296 and 165-9 (T Latham 52, W Somerville 36; R Ashwin 3-35, R Jadeja 4-40).