Ajaz Patel celebrates a wicket with Tom Latham. Photo / AP
All the action on day two of the second test between Black Caps and India.
When they played their first Test in Mumbai since 2016, India were looking for a dominant opening day against the Black Caps – but they were dented by a New Zealander who felt at home.
Spinner Ajaz Patel, born in Mumbai and raised in India’s largest city until he was eight, claimed all four wickets as India reached 221-4 on stump on day one of the second Test.
It was still India’s day – winning the draw helped significantly – with opener Mayank Agarwal anchoring the inning to reach stumps undefeated at 120 along with Wriddhiman Saha at 25.
But Patel’s one-man show saved the Black Caps from tough problems after a start on the test that could not have been much worse.
First came the news – already known within the team, but delivered to the public before the throw – that captain Kane Williamson was out of this test, and more are likely to come, with a flare-up of his ongoing elbow injury.
If it came as a surprise to India, they had plenty of time to cook on it, with the first session washed out due to a wet away game.
Stand-in captain Tom Latham then lost the throw, acknowledging that he would much rather have struck first, but well those were the breaks, and two and a half hours after the scheduled start, he led his side out into the park in search of quick wickets.
Twenty-seven overs later, India were 80-0, and the inspiration from the exciting first test draw looked further away than the 1300km journey the teams made from Kanpur to Mumbai.
One man who enjoyed that trip, however, was Patel, who before the test spoke passionately about what it meant for him to play in his birthplace.
And when he played in front of some family members for the first time, Patel made them proud, with a stunning magic of three wickets in two overs that put the Black Caps back in action.
From 80-0, India tumbled to 80-3, with Patel claiming scalps that would make any spinner proud as he sent Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli to pack.
Each wicket had a strange peculiarity about it. Gill should have been out a ball earlier, only for Tom Blundell to miss a shot, but Patel removed him the following delivery, pulling the opener into a socket that went to Ross Taylor by drop.
The same situation unfolded in his next over, with a big lbw appeal on Pujara drawing an unsuccessful review before the next ball Patel again hit, where Pujara came down the field but only managed to york himself as the ball spun on the stumps.
Pujara was gone after a duck, so four balls later Kohli was the same, with the returning captain caught lbw. A confident review led to a lengthy third refereeing process, but repetitions were uncertain as to whether the ball first hit the pad or bat, and an animated Kohli eventually had to trudge off.
Suddenly, with 8-7-2-3, Patel had spared the blush from a poor start to the inning where Kyle Jamieson had his worst opening period in his glittering short career, Tim Southee could not find the first. test magic, and Will Somerville was gloomy.
Somerville was a controversial inclusion compared to Neil Wagner, and perhaps Patel proved that it was the right call to load up on spinners, with more turn and bounce available on day one than there were in Kanpur.
But Somerville was not the man to pull it off, going for 46 runs from eight off-key overs, with Agarwal being particularly brutal for sending Somerville’s poor deliveries and smashing him in 26 runs off 31 balls. He smoked 14 fours and four sixes, with India hitting six sixes while keeping the running speed afloat, moving regularly down the track to the slower bowlers to keep up the pressure.
Jamieson improved after an idiosyncratic opening form, and Southee was tight and tidy, but Somerville’s sloppy and lacking cut from Daryl Mitchell – Williamson’s replacement – and Rachin Ravindra meant Agarwal kept the inning together after Patel’s procession and reached his fourth test century after balls from 196. .
However, the hometown hero was not finished and still managed to finish another 80-run stand, removing the first test star Shreya Iyer for 18 with a ball that Iyer edged on top of his pillow, where Blundell randomly jumped out from behind the stumps to pocket a simple catch.
Unfortunately for New Zealand, it was the last wicket that fell. In the last session, 110 runs were added for only the loss of Iyer, with Saha excellently protecting a long tail to ensure India kept a comfortable position at stumps.
Just like in the first test, early wickets on day two will see Black Caps storms back into the competition, but to achieve that, more bowlers need to adapt to the conditions and start to feel at home.