India go to lunch on the second day on 339 for 8, with R Ashwin on a counterattacking 38

Lunch India 339 for 8 (Iyer 105, Ashwin 38*, Umesh 4*, Southee 5-69, Jamieson 3-85) vs New Zealand

Tim Southee delivered one of the great Test-match spells by a visiting fast bowler in India to almost singlehandedly drag New Zealand back into the Kanpur Test. Having nursed a groin strain that took him off the field for parts of the first day’s play, Southee had recovered sufficiently – or bowled through whatever residual pain he still felt – to pick 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.
Starting the day at 258 for 4 with two half-centurions at the crease, India went to lunch at 339 for 8. That the morning wasn’t entirely New Zealand’s was down to Shreyas Iyer, who became the 16th Indian man to score a century on debut, and R Ashwin, who counterattacked from No. 8 to go to lunch batting on 38 off 54 balls.
Kyle Jamieson was New Zealand’s most impactful performer on day one, but he began day two completely out of rhythm, and Iyer, resuming on 75, hit him for five fours in his first three overs of the morning to hurry into the 90s. He brought up his hundred in Jamieson’s next over, with a sliced drive for two backward of point. The century came up off just 153 balls.
By then, though, Southee had already made a crucial incision. He began the day with four balls wide of Ravindra Jadeja‘s off stump, delivered from around the wicket, and the left-hander shouldered arms to all of them. He followed it with one that swung sharply into the stumps, and Jadeja, stuck in his crease, played down the wrong line and was struck on the back pad, with an umpire’s call verdict on height saving him after New Zealand reviewed the initial not-out decision.

Southee didn’t have to wait long to get his man, though. A similar delivery in his next over drew a similar, leaden-footed response, and this time the ball rattled into the stumps via the inside edge.

The wickets kept coming. A pair of full outswingers that weren’t quite full enough to drive prised Wriddhiman Saha and Iyer out; the first, delivered from wide of the crease, drew an off-drive down the wrong line, and the second, delivered from the middle of the box and swerving away straight out of the hand, scrambled the batter’s shape on the drive, the slowness of the pitch also contributing to the ball being spooned to cover point.

Then, in his eighth over of the morning, Southee alternated inswingers to the left-handed Axar Patel with scrambled-seam balls that straightened off the pitch. Axar played and missed at the first scrambled-seam ball, and hung his bat out and edged the second to the keeper. India were 313 for 8.

By then, Ashwin was already on 20 off 22 balls, having come in and taken on Southee’s outswingers, steering, slicing and driving him for three fours in the arc between backward point and extra-cover. Southee kept his spell going for three more overs in the quest to finish the innings off, but Ashwin farmed the strike, refusing singles in the early part of his overs to keep Umesh Yadav away from the strike as much as possible.

Ashwin could have been dismissed for 16 when he stepped out to Ajaz Patel and missed an attempted lofted hit, with the ball scooting through unexpectedly low. The ball, however, narrowly missed off stump and bounced off Tom Blundell’s pad before he could react. It could have been the first wicket to fall to a spinner in this Test match, but as on day one – when he missed reviewing an lbw decision against Shubman Gill – the luck wasn’t quite with Ajaz.

That ball, and another shooter from Ajaz that Umesh missed and almost rolled between Blundell’s legs for four byes, would have thrilled India’s bowlers no end. Southee may have bowled New Zealand back into this Test match, but they will be batting last on this surface.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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