Shreyas Iyer scored a hundred on debut before Ravichandran Ashwin survived Tim Southee’s incisive morning spell to take India to 339 for 8 at lunch on Day 2 of the first Test against New Zealand, at Green Park in Kanpur, on Friday.
Resuming on the overnight score of 75, Iyer (105 off 171 balls) became the 16th Indian to score a hundred on Test debut, and second after the great Gundappa Vishwanath to reach the milestone at Green Park after 52 years.
He is the third successive Mumbai player, after Rohit Sharma and Prithvi Shaw, to slam a hundred on Test debut.
Ashwin (38 batting off 54 balls) did the bulk of scoring in the morning session, in which India scored 81 runs and lost four wickets.
The opening session also belonged to New Zealand’s seasoned pacer Southee (27.4-6-69-5), who bagged his 13th five-wicket haul in his 80th Test. He was on target with the second new ball first up as he sent back Ravindra Jadeja (50) on his overnight score.
Southee, as usual, used the width of the crease cleverly and the angles to trouble Jadeja and got the ball to move from length, which was too much for the lower-order players to negotiate.
Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel nicked at those deliveries and were back in the hut.
Sensing that he was batting with the tail as Saha (1 off 12 balls) is no longer a batter on whom one can repose faith, Iyer hit a flurry of boundaries but the best shot was a cover drive off Kyle Jamieson (22.2-6-85-3) which took him to 96.
A glide towards wide of third man off Jamieson got him a double and the moment that every cricketer awaits: a century in India whites, which would definitely increase the pressure on his captain for the game, Ajinkya Rahane.
His innings was studded with 13 fours and two sixes, which showed that he was always looking at ways to score runs rather than merely surviving.
He was finally out for 105 when he tried to drive a slower one from Southee but saw it land straight in the hands of cover fielder, Will Young.
Ashwin, however, was untroubled as he hit five fours, including a regal cover drive off a rare loose ball from Southee.
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