Ajaz Patel (four for 73) emerged as the unlikely hometown hero but Mayank Agarwal’s sparking unbeaten century (120 n.o., 246b, 14x4, 4x6) overshadowed the New Zealand finger spinner’s exploits and helped stage India’s recovery on the first day of the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.
Riding on Mayank’s fourth Test hundred, India recovered from 80 for three to end the proceedings of a shortened day’s play due to wet outfield at 221 for four. Mayank and Wriddhiman Saha will hope to carry on their unbroken association of 61 on the second morning to lead India to safety on a pitch that has been assisting spinners since day one.
While the groundstaff was busy making the outfield playable after unseasonal rain in the lead-up to the game on Friday morning, both the camps announced injury blows.
Ajinkya Rahane (left hamstring strain), Ravindra Jadeja (right forearm) and Ishant Sharma (dislocated left little finger) were ruled out for India, while New Zealand suffered a blow with captain Kane Williamson (left elbow) declared unfit.
As a result, India didn’t have to tinker its batting line-up to accommodate Virat Kohli.
Once Kohli marked his return to the team by winning the toss, Mayank and Shubman Gill took over when the game resumed at noon, two and a half hours after the scheduled start.
Flurry of boundaries
While Gill started with a flurry of boundaries off Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson, Mayank was in his element once spin was introduced in the eighth over.
Ajaz, the lef-arm spinner who migrated to New Zealand from Mumbai more than two decades ago, persisted with aggressive mindset in a marathon spell.
He was eventually rewarded handsomely, snaring three wickets in 10 balls. A delivery after Tom Blundell made a mess of a stumping attempt when Ajaz beat Gill in flight, he enticed an edge off the Indian’s willow to Ross Taylor at slips.
In his next over, he got a double breakthrough. A ball after a missed leg-before review, Cheteshwar Pujara charged down and was undone by the dip and was bowled. Four deliveries later, Kohli was adjudged leg-before with the bat and the pad close to each other and TV umpire Virender Sharma having no conclusive evidence to overturn Anil Chaudhary’s decision.
From 80 for no loss, India was 80 for three in the space of 16 balls. From then on, it was a Mayank show with the opener displaying a wide array of strokes.
The highlight was the lofted cover drive off Ajaz that broke the shackles and landed over the extra-cover fence. While Ajaz earned a fourth scalp, getting Shreyas’s inside-edge on to his pad that ballooned to Blundell, Mayank continued to sizzle and Saha batted effortlessly.
A trademark cover drive off Daryl Mitchell ended Mayank’s two-year wait for a Test hundred. India will be hope he carries on in the same vein on day two.