Debutant Iyer guides India through the smog and peril from Black Caps bowlers

Shreyas Iyer

Debuting Shreyas Iyer struck an unbeaten 75 to steady India after an afternoon wobble to end the opening day of the first Test in charge at 258-4.

Pollution cast a hazy pall over the ground, with levels of the most harmful PM2.5 microparticles reaching more than 19 times the World Health Organization’s recommended daily maximum, according to monitoring firm IQAir.

The conditions would not deter Iyer, who shared an unbroken 113-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja who struck a busy 50 off 100 balls.

Iyer hit 7 fours and two sixes in his 136-ball innings. His partner at the other end, Jadeja, also slapped six fours.

Pulling India out of trouble

Iyer came in after Cheteshwar Pujara’s dismissal for 26 off 88 balls to Tim Southee left India at 106-3.

India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane built a 39-run partnership with Iyer before becoming Kyle Jamieson’s third scalp to leave India at 154-4 at tea.

Jamieson, the sharpest of the New Zealand bowlers, had earlier removed India’s new opening pair of Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill in his 15.2 overs spell giving away only 47 runs and taking three wickets.

“(I) hardly played the last couple of months. Was nice to find some rhythm. Probably too good at times, hence the overstepping,” Jamieson said.

“Hopefully the new ball swings a bit in the morning and we can take a few wickets. India is probably a fraction ahead, but we did well to have them four down.”

Gill’s vigil ends

Gill looked promising having amassed an unbeaten 52 off 93 balls going into lunch, but could not add to the score and was bowled by Jamieson in the first over after the break.

The young opener hit five fours and a six in his free-flowing innings but was Jamiseon’s second victim, after partner Agarwal who edged him to wicketkeeper Tom Blundell in the eighth over after a scratchy 13 runs off 28 balls.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson brought Tim Southee back into the 38th over of the innings and the veteran removed a well-set Pujara off his fourth ball.

Williamson took the second new ball when it became available at the end of the 80th over, but Jadeja and Iyer comfortably navigated the four overs before play was called off for bad light.

The hosts dominated the final session of the game and will now hope to bat the Kiwis out of the game Friday before the pitch becomes more conducive to the spinners.

India were without a rested stars Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami and an injured KL Rahul.

The World Test Championship holders picked two specialist spinners — Ajaz Patel and William Somerville — and spinning all-rounder Rachin Ravindra for Kanpur.

Patel bowled his left-arm spin for 21 wicketless overs that cost 78 runs.

Off-spinner Somerville was introduced in the 18th over and bowled a tidy 24-over spell for 60 runs.

The 22-year-old Ravindra, the other debutant in the match, got to bowl for the first time in the 25th over with the ball already gripping and turning on the slow first-day pitch, but failed to take a wicket.

Rahane too packed his side with three specialist spinners in Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel.