Iyer and Saha fifties crucial for India as New Zealand set target of 284

By Sports Desk November 28, 2021

Shreyas Iyer and Wriddhiman Saha made crucial fifties on another topsy-turvy day on day four of the first Test between India and New Zealand.

The hosts recovered from 51-5 in their second innings with Test debutant Iyer (65) following up an impressive century in the first, and Saha adding an unbeaten 61 before India declared on 234-7.

Chasing a target of 284, New Zealand lost Will Young (2) early in their reply and needing 280 runs to win ahead of what promises to be a tense final day.

Resuming on 14-1, India lost five wickets in a troublesome morning session with Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson snagging a pair of wickets and Ajaz Patel also doing damage.

Iyer was once again his team's main protagonist, though, putting on partnerships of 52 and 64 with Ashwin (32) and Saha to turn the tide.

He eventually nicked Southee behind to Tom Blundell but Saha, who had four fours and one six in his knock, continued to frustrate the tourists and an eighth-wicket stand of 77 with Axar Patel convinced stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane to call it.

As the light began to dwindle, only four overs were possible in New Zealand's reply, but there was still enough time for Ashwin to trap Young (2) lbw, who was too late calling for a review that would have shown the ball missing leg stump.

Debut to remember for Iyer

In a Test match relatively short of runs, the 170 across both innings from Iyer has been vitally important for his team, and is particularly impressive given he last played a multi-day match nearly three years ago.

Iyer hit eight fours and a six from the 125 balls he faced on Sunday, but most importantly, he dragged India back into the Test match and will be a strong contender for player of the match should his team complete the job on day five.

New Zealand unable to keep India down

It was the second time in as many days that New Zealand forced themselves into an excellent position, before allowing India to regain control as the day progressed.

After collapsing from 197-2 to 296 all out in their first innings on day three, the Black Caps had India reeling with only five wickets remaining and a 100-run lead, before allowing them to add a further 183 with the next two wickets before the declaration.

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