India wrestle back control of first Test through Axar Patel brilliance

By Sports Desk November 27, 2021

The first Test between India and New Zealand swung back in the hosts' favour on Saturday thanks to the brilliance of Axar Patel.

The left-arm spinner accounted for Tom Latham, who was just five runs short of a century, before making light work of the lower order to finish with figures of 5-62.

It was the fifth five-four Axar has recorded in his previous seven innings in Test cricket and it seemed to inspire the rest of India's attack as they left New Zealand all out on 296.

Latham and Will Young had put New Zealand in a commanding position of 129-0 at the close of day two, and their partnership of 151 steered the Black Caps to 213-2 despite the best efforts of Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-82).

However, the match changed course in the afternoon session. Umesh Yadav trapped Kane Williamson lbw after the captain managed just 18 off 64 deliveries, and Axar took the wickets of Ross Taylor (11) and Henry Nicholls (2) while only giving up 14 runs in an 11-over spell.

Tom Blundell and Tim Southee were then skittled by Axar, who capped his performance by catching Kyle Jamieson just as he was building up steam on 23.

There was time for India to put some runs on the board before the light faded, although the excitable crowd in Kanpur was stunned into eerie silence when Jamieson bowled Shubman Gill for his 50th Test wicket with the first ball of the second over.

India will resume on day four on 14-1 with a lead of 63 runs.

Axar hogging the limelight

New Zealand looked to have the match under their control at 196-1 until Axar intervened. It was his fifth five-wicket haul of 2021; the last player to record as many in the year of his Test debut was Australia's Rodney Hogg back in 1978.

"Taking five wickets in seven innings is something the other team-mates have been teasing me about. It's like a dream within a dream start," he said.

Jamieson keeps up New Zealand spirits

After failing to make the most of Latham and Young's impressive opening stand, New Zealand heads were down as India began their second innings.

However, Jamieson's terrific ball to Gill might just have halted the hosts' momentum. It also made the 26-year-old the fastest man to reach 50 Test wickets for New Zealand, his half-century coming in just nine matches, with previous record-holder Shane Bond doing so in 12.

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