Euro 2020 Special

Shreyas Iyer to Tim Southee: Best Players of the India – New Zealand First Test

The first Test between India and New Zealand ended in a draw after a gruelling fight between both sides on the last day. The Kiwis will be confident heading into the second match as they managed to bat deep in both innings to hold off an inevitable Indian victory. After posting mammoth totals of 345 in the first innings and 296 in the second innings, India looked set on course for a victory, but gritty batting by the New Zealand players held back the threat from Indians.

Here are our top players from the first Test between India and New Zealand:



Shreyas Iyer won the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his contributions with the bat in his debut Test. With a score of 105 from 171 balls that saw 13 fours and two sixes, Iyer became the 16th Indian cricketer in the longest format of the game to smash a century on his debut. By scoring a gritty 65 off 125 balls in the second innings, the debutant became the first Indian cricketer to score a century and a fifty on Test debut.

His innings were all the more impressive considering that the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara struggled to score runs on the same pitch. Boasting a strike rate of over 80 in first-class cricket, Iyer was able to show his form once more with a strike rate of 61.4 and 52, much higher than other Indian batsmen. If he can continue his form in the second Test at Wankhede, Indian would have found a steady hand in the middle order – a weak point in recent years.



New Zealand’s ability to prevent the Indian batsman from running away with high scores was questioned before the Test series, as their traditional pace lineup was untested on spin-friendly Indian tracks. But Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson defied a slow pitch to produce spells for the ages. Tim Southee removed the key wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shreyas Iyer as he took a fifer in the first innings, following it up with three wickets in the second innings. Jamieson on the other hand was critical in keeping India’s run rate low in the second innings and gave support to Southee with three wickets each in both innings.

Along with Kyle Jamieson, it was Southee rather than the spinners that prevented the Indians from running away with a big total in the first innings. The duo took 14 of the 17 Indian wickets that fell in the first Test, ensuring that India ran out of time to extend their lead – especially in the second innings. On the much faster Wankhede surface, the pace duo would likely gain more advantage over the Indian batsmen, and it would be no surprise if Kane Williamson decides to leave out his spinners altogether.



While the focus was on Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to post high scores, it was Tom Latham who emerged as the surprise performer among New Zealand batsmen. Faced with the task of chasing down a 345-run lead in the first innings, the openers had their task cut out – bat as long as possible to force the game to the last day. The duo of Tom Latham and Will Young managed to do just that – facing a combined 496 balls between them. Latham scored a brilliant 95 in the first innings with a strike rate of 33.69.

Young gave Latham good support in the first innings with 89 runs, as they became the first opening pair in five years to make a century opening-stand against India in India. Faced with the prospect of a defeat in the second innings, Tom Latham once again stood his ground, batting through an entire session along with William Somerville to deny India a victory.



Indian veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin surpassed Harbhajan Singh to become the third-highest wicket-taker for India in the longest format of the game. In the first innings, Ashwin registered figures of 82/3, removing the key wicket of Will Young to break the opening partnership. In the second innings, Ashwin once again starred with the ball as he took three wickets with an economy of just 1.20. So good was Ashwin with the ball that he bowled more overs than any other Indian bowler in the match.

Along with Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, the Indian spin trio took 17 of the 19 New Zealand wickets to fall in the Test. Even on spin-friendly pitches, uneven bounce and slow pace made taking wickets difficult for the Indian bowlers at times – and they would have finished the job with a bit better luck.



After being overshadowed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rishabh Pant since making his Test debut in 2010, Wriddhiman Saha had his moment of excellence in the first Test. With Pant rested for the ongoing series, it opened an opportunity for Saha to prove his worth. While he got out cheaply in the first innings, Saha showed his mettle in the second innings by scoring 61 runs off 126 balls at a strike rate of 48.41. That innings enabled India to declare the innings early instead of waiting for the Indian batsmen to be bowled out, giving them a chance to win the game. Saha’s tenacity against the pace attack of Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson will be keenly noted by the selectors as they eye the World Test Championship title.




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