India vs New Zealand: Agarwal lights up Wankhede after Patel's four-for

India's Mayank Agarwal celebrates his century on the first day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. — ANI
India's Mayank Agarwal celebrates his century on the first day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. — ANI

Mumbai - The opener scores his fourth Test hundred, while left-arm spinner Patel ends the day with figures of 4-73



By Reuters/PTI

Published: Fri 3 Dec 2021, 5:52 PM

India opener Mayank Agarwal hit a gritty hundred to rescue the hosts after New Zealand left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel had put them in a spot of bother with three quick wickets on the weather-hit first day of the second and final Test on Friday.

Agarwal remained unbeaten on 120 after completing his fourth Test hundred to help India reach 221 for four wickets at stumps with wicketkeeper-batter Wriddhiman Saha keeping him company on 25 not out at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai-born Patel, whose parents immigrated to New Zealand in 1996, picked up all four wickets on a track aiding the spinners to finish with figures of four for 73.

After the first session was wiped out due to a wet outfield, Agarwal and Shubman Gill gave their side a solid start with an opening stand of 80 following captain Virat Kohli’s decision to bat having winning the toss.

Patel gave New Zealand the breakthrough by dismissing Gill for 44 when the batter edged a delivery to the lone slip.

The 33-year-old Patel returned in his next over to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli before they had opened their accounts, much to the disappointment of the few hundreds present at the ground which overlooks the Arabian Sea.

Kohli, who returned to the side to lead India after being rested for the three-match Twenty20 series and the first test in Kanpur, reviewed the leg before wicket decision unsuccessfully and trudged off after a chat with the on-field umpires.

Television replays were inconclusive in showing if he had hit the ball before Patel’s delivery struck his pad.

From 80 for no loss, India were reduced to 80-3 and it was left to Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer, who made a dream Test debut in Kanpur with a first-innings 105 followed by a crucial 65 in the second, to launch the fightback for the hosts.

The duo added 80 for the fourth wicket to rebuild the innings before Iyer fell on 18 to become Patel’s fourth scalp.

The dismissal brought Agarwal and Saha together and the pair defied New Zealand’s bowlers for the rest of the day with an unbroken partnership of 61.

A square-driven four off seamer Daryl Mitchell took Agarwal to three figures and the 30-year-old leapt and punched the air to celebrate his first Test hundred since he scored a career-best 243 against Bangladesh in 2019.

The right-handed batter hit 14 fours and four sixes in his knock.

“When I was picked, Rahul bhai spoke to me. He asked me to control what is in my hands and said, ‘go out there and give it your best’,” Agarwal said at the end of the day’s play.

“He had told me ‘When you get set, make it big’. I am happy to have capitalised on the start that I had. But that message was very clear from Rahul bhai, that I should make it count,” he added.

The Bangalore based opener lamented that it was his misfortune that he got hit on the head during a net session in England and then there was nothing in his hands.

“It was unfortunate for me to not have played in England, I got hit and there’s nothing much I could do about that. I accepted it and continued to work hard and work on my process and my game.”

Sunil Gavaskar, during his commentary session spoke about how he had advised Agarwal to reduce his pronounced back-lift into a shorter one and the opener said that as of now, he is trying to ape the iconic former India captain’s side-on stance.

“He told me that I should consider keeping the bat a bit low initially in my innings. I have a tendency to hold it high. I couldn’t make that adjustment in this short period of time. When he was saying, I noticed his shoulder position and basically picked up that I need to be more side on.”

Both sides were dealt injury blows before the Test with the tourists losing captain Kane Williamson to an elbow problem, while the hosts lost Ajinkya Rahane, who led the side in Kanpur in Kohli’s absence, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma.

The opening Test ended in a thrilling draw with New Zealand’s last batting pair hanging on in the final session to deny the hosts a victory. — Reuters/PTI


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