Shreya Iyer became the 303rd male Test cricketer for India on Thursday when he received his debut cap from former India captain Sunil Gavaskar at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.
After KL Rahul was ruled out of the series with a thigh muscle strain, the vomit stood between Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, who was a late addition to the Indian Test team. The team management went with Shreyas and he has refuted their faith in him with unbeaten 75 of 136 balls after day 1 of the first Test against New Zealand.

New coach Rahul Dravid, who has worked with Iyer at the India-A level, would have liked what he saw. An attacking middle-order batting opportunity is one thing the team wants to have.
When India play at home, they are always the overwhelming favorites. Just ask the Kiwis – who have toured in India since 1955, but who have not yet won a test series here. However, on day 1 of the Kanpur test, the Kiwis did not allow India to run hard over them in the first two sessions. The first session produced 81 runs and one wicket, and the second saw 72 runs scored and 3 wickets dropped.

Although it was a good throw to win by stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane and people like Shubman Gill (52 of 93) and Ajinkya Rahane (35 of 63) delivered good performances, the guests did not allow a great partnership to be formed (until before Iyer and Jadeja found together). The second wicket partnership between Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara was worth 61. Both Gill and Rahane should ideally have been longer on the fold. Mayank Agarwal and Pujara got started but did not take advantage of them as India were at 145-4 and in little trouble.

Shreyas Iyer. (AFP photo)
The 6-foot and 8-inch-tall Kyle Jamieson stood head and shoulders above all other Kiwi bowlers, both literally and metaphorically, with numbers of 3-47. Agarwal, Gill and Rahane all fell for Jamieson, who is fast becoming a very reliable bowler across formats. In the World Test Championship final against India in June this year, which New Zealand won by 8 wickets, Jamieson had match figures of 7-61 and ran away with the Man of the Match award.

Jamieson and what he did at the Indian batting line-up on Day 1 in Kanpur is what makes Iyer’s contribution with the bat in his very first test round, where he beat number 5, all the more important.
Iyer is by nature an attacking player. His first-class batting strike rate is 81.54. He likes the ball coming on the bat. In Kanpur, however, he did not get such a pitch. The first 7 deliveries he faced were dots. His first scoring shot was one that was played to try to go over the top. The ball from Ajaz Patel turned and Iyer only managed to cut it. He was very lucky that it did not balloon in the sky for Kane Williamson to take a catch. The Kiwi captain ran back from the center but could not reach the ball. Iyer took 2 races but more importantly survived. Two more dotted balls followed and then from the last ball in the 41st over Iyer, Patel hit over the midwicket for his first limit in test cricket. It was a confident shot and one that must have helped him breathe much better. From there, he appeared more comprehensible.
Despite his naturally attacking instincts, the 26-year-old had to show patience – a trait that every skilled test player should have – and he did, by and large. He was lucky at times and might want to dampen the urge to hit the spinners over the top every chance he gets. The track in Kanpur, according to the curator, will probably start turning a bit from day 2.
The Kiwis would ideally have liked to have taken at least one more wicket of no two with the other new ball.
Ravindra Jadeja also deserves a special mention for her battle on the opening day of the test match. His 50 not out of 100 balls and the unbeaten 113 run fifth wicket stand between Iyer is what really helped India end the day with the takeover.
Come day 2 and both Iyer and Jadeja would like to continue where they left off on day 1.
Before taking his game face on before day 2, Iyer can afford to smile. His very first outing in test cricket has been impressive.


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