India played her 500th Test match at the Green Park in Kanpur against an enterprising New Zealand side in the first of a three-match Test series. In an intriguing and hard fought battle, the home team emerged winners by 197 runs.
The margin of victory, though, does not do justice to the intensity of battle over the 14 sessions. The mere fact that New Zealand took the match to the final day, albeit due to a rain delay on day 2, speaks volumes of their ability to dig in and be resilient in the face of adversity.
Both teams had named strong playing XIs. Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat, as was expected. His trusted batsmen, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, scored half-centuries that helped the team get to a respectable total of 318.
In reply, after a Ravindra Jadeja five-for, the visitors were bundled out for 258. In the second innings, India added a further 377 to set an almost unassailable target of 434 for victory. Once Ravichandran Ashwin had dismissed Kane Williamson for the second time in the match, the Kiwis were always staring down the barrel.
Inspired performances from Luke Ronchi and Mitchell Santner helped stretch the game, but the result was inevitable and India ran out winners by a large margin.
Here’s a look at the most consistent players from the match, including Ravichandran Ashwin, the Jana Bankable Player of the match:
#5 Murali Vijay
1st innings: 65 (170)
2nd innings: 76 (170)
The Chennai-born opening batsman made his return from injury, forming a new opening partnership at the top with KL Rahul and immediately made his mark. In both innings, he displayed traits of his game that have made him so dependable over the years. He was solid in defence, showing never-wavering discipline and put the bad balls away.
He was the perfect foil at the top, as his partner at the other end was scoring runs at a quicker rate. He never looked like throwing his wicket away and ensured that his team posted a significant total before he lost his wicket.
Vijay recorded a 100-run partnership in both the innings and even rolled his arm over when he was required to by his skipper. All in all, a top-class performance, setting the tone for the rest of the team.