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Kolkata Test 1: Jadeja, Iyer, and Gill half-centuries take India to top

On the first day of India v/s New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium here on Thursday, Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, and Shubman Gill scored fighting half-centuries to help India win.

After Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee reduced India to 145/4 in 49.2 overs, stumps were called early owing to bad light, and India were 258/4 in 84 overs, with Iyer (75 not out off 136 balls) and Jadeja (50 not out off 100 balls) putting on an unbeaten 113-run stand. After Gill had helped India win the first session by scoring his third Test half-century, the visitors battled their way back in the second session (52 off 93 balls).

India had done everything right in the morning, thanks to a 61-run partnership between Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara (26), after winning the toss and deciding to bat first on a wicket with minor cracks and varying bounce. Gill looked at ease against Ajaz Patel after surviving lbw calls early on, taking him for four fours and oozed confidence as he smashed the left-arm spinner for a straight six on his way to his fourth half-century in the format.

Everything was going swimmingly for India until New Zealand battled back in the second session, claiming three wickets for 72 runs in 27 overs, with Jamieson the main wrecker on a day when spinners went wicketless and bled runs in 52 overs.

Jamieson struck on the sixth ball after lunch, after constantly probing the off-stump channel and had Mayank Agarwal (13) nicking behind to keeper Tom Blundell in the eighth over. Gill inside-edged a full nip-backer to his stumps while attempting to defend forward.

After that, Jamieson made life difficult for Pujara and Rahane, even hitting the India vice-captain on the glove. Kane Williamson replaced Jamieson with Southee, a move that paid off when Pujara pushed forward to defend outside the off-stump, only for the ball to take an outside edge to Blundell for a clear low catch.

Rahane smashed some clean boundaries through the off-side following Pujara’s demise, with the one-through cover off Jamieson being the standout. The towering pacer, however, had the last laugh in the 50th over, when Rahane sliced onto his stumps, which were undone by low bounce, leaving India in danger.

Iyer, who was almost caught out early in the innings while aiming for a huge hit off left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, struck two boundaries and escaped a close lbw call from off-spinner William Somerville, to reach 17 off 31 balls at tea. The 26-year-old started the final session by driving a Rachin Ravindra delivery through the covers. Ravindra’s left-arm spin would go on to give him three boundaries, including back-to-back ones in the 64th over. Iyer then slowed down and dealt singles, one of which helped him reach his first half-century in 94 balls, making him the 63rd Indian batter to do so on debut.

Iyer clipped Patel late through backward point, despite Patel’s re-introduction.

Jadeja, on the other hand, rotated the strike while smashing the odd barrier. The duo was mostly untroubled, though an odd ball from Somerville did cause some confusion for the latter. Iyer continued to cut Patel twice through off-side before lifting cleanly over long-on while Jadeja got a heavy outer edge from Southee for a boundary.

Taking the second new ball didn’t help New Zealand much, as Jadeja smashed consecutive boundaries from Jamieson, taking the fifth-wicket partnership to a century. With a fast single to mid-off in the next over, Jadeja reached his 17th Test half-century. Iyer hit Somerville for a six over deep mid-wicket for the final scoring shot of the day, finishing with 58 runs off 72 balls in the final session.

As a result of the Iyer-Jadeja partnership blossoming, India will be the happier side of the equation. With some batting firepower still available, they will be trying to extend their lead on the second day. Brief scores: India 258/4 in 84 overs (Shreyas Iyer batting 75, Shubman Gill 52, Ravindra Jadeja batting 50; Kyle Jamieson 3/47, Tim Southee 1/43) against New Zealand.

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