KANPUR: With a light meter in his hand, umpire Nitin Menon garnered major attention in the final 30 minutes of the first Test between India vs New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur on Monday.
After the completion of each over, the instrument was used to check the light if further play was possible.
The pensive faces in both the camps narrated a clear picture with the home team in search of one last wicket to clinch the first Test while it was a case of survival for the Black Caps.
The seeping sun might have allowed India to sneak in an over or so, but the hosts had to settle for a thrilling draw with light having a final say in a thrilling finish.
Debutant Rachin Ravindra at number eight and number 11 Ajaz Patel survived for a period of almost nine overs against the spin trio of R Ashwin (3/35), Ravindra Jadeja (4/40) and Axar Patel.
On a slow pitch, where wear and tear were missing,India bowlers need a special mention. Tracks in India open up and assist the spinners on the final day most often than not, but it was a different case in Kanpur.
There was not much turn to attack the batters, nor there was bounce, testing the Indian bowlers to the core.
To make matters difficult, even those balls, which produced edges, hardly carried to the close in fielders.
“We showed great composure and fighting spirit to be able to sort of work really hard in that final session. It was quite an unresponsive pitch even on the fifth day. The guys were very good and it was a good effort, considering that we were able to take eight wickets after lunch, three in that session and five in last session and really run the game close. With a little bit of luck, it would have gone our way as well. I think the guys really fought hard,” head coach Dravid said.
It was a challenge for the spinners to even make a game out of it in the final day, especially when New Zealand batters stopped going for the target.
As it has been the case throughout the Test, once the batters decided to stop going for runs and chose a defensive mode, it was always going to test the bowlers.
After a wicketless first session, Umesh Yadav dismissed William Somerville, which reflected the toil of the Indian bowlers as the night watchman saw out the first session completely.
There was a ray of hope when Ashwin dismissed Tom Latham and Jadeja followed that with the wicket of Ross Taylor before tea.
And those hopes increased further after Henry Nicholls and Kane Williamson were out in quick succession in the last session.
On a pitch where wickets don’t fall in a heap, the accuracy of the Indian spinners were forcing the Kiwis to make a mistake.
With Ashwin and Jadeja being relentless, the pressure was beginning to show on New Zealand who went from 126/4 to 155/9. But Rachin and Ajaz survived some nervy moments to keep their hopes hope of a series win alive.
The second Test will also mark the return the regular captain Virat Kohli, but Dravid kept his cards close to his chest when asked upon the team combination with Shreyas Iyer having made a big claim for a middle order berth.
“We have not decided about the playing XI as of now. When we will go to Mumbai, we will have a look at the conditions, pitch, look at fitness. Virat will also be there, will also talk to him and then decide,” said Dravid.
Brief Scores: India: 345 and 234/7 declared.
New Zealand: 269 and 165 for 9 in 98 overs (Tom Latham 52, William Somerville 36; Ravichandran Ashwin 3/35, Ravindra Jadeja 4/40).