Indian cricket seems to be following a script this year. Any batter who has come into the XI looking to cement his place has ensured he is ready to play a crucial role. Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill and Washington Sundar ruled the first half of the year. On Thursday, Shreyas Iyer got his Test career off to an assured start as he walked off the field unbeaten on 75 off 136 balls, leaving New Zealand in a desperate state at the end of Day One with a score 258/4 on the board.
India went in with five specialist batters. Captain Ajinkya Rahane and vice-captain Cheteshwar Pujara have 78 and 90 Tests behind them; Mayank Agarwal, fighting to win his place back, is playing his 15th Test, Gill is playing his 9th Test and Iyer is making his debut.
As it has happened right through the year, Pujara and Rahane left after laboring to get set, leaving the undercooked batters to do the damage control. Gill played the lead in setting the tempo with a 93-ball 52 at the top of the innings before India’s most reliable Test batter of the year, Ravindra Jadeja, took centre stage with Iyer to steer India — then 145/4 — out of choppy waters in the second session.
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