While a score of 291/9 on the opening day of the Kanpur Test has left India in a spot of bother, former skipper Sunil Gavaskar believes that the hosts have put up a decent enough total on the board and expects the Virat Kohli-led side to bounce back strongly on Day 2 with the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja expected to make good use of the surface.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, India made a strong start to the match with Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara smashing half-centuries each. However, with the batsmen failing to convert their starts to big totals, the Indian batting fell away in the lunch and tea sessions as the New Zealand spin trio of Mitchell Santner, Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi picking up six wickets between them.
With Jadeja still at the crease batting on 16 along with Umesh Yadav, India could add a sizeable amount of runs to their total, but according to Gavaskar, the former can prove a big threat for the home side along with Ashwin.
"India are not out of the game. Ashwin and Jadeja can run amok tomorrow,” Gavaskar said. “There is purchase in the wicket. India have their hopes high from the spinners. They must stop big partnerships to keep New Zealand in check tomorrow.
“The dismissals of Rohit Sharma (35), Pujara and Lokesh Rahul (32) were unfortunate. Pujara's exit gave New Zealand a foot in the door. It's still a decent score by India. Many Indian batsmen got starts but they failed to convert them into big ones. Indian batsmen must learn to get the big hundreds."
Despite heading into the match, which is incidentally India’s 500th match in the longest format of the game, as firm underdogs, Kane Williamson’s side showed plenty of resolve to claw their way back into the match after being on the backfoot early on. Gavaskar is hopeful that the visitors exhibit the same fighting spirit throughout the series so that the spectators get to witness a well fought out series.
"New Zealand were outstanding with their bowling and fielding. When India started well, they did not lose heart in the heat. We can expect a good series," said Gavaskar.
The 67-year-old Indian batting legend also praised the New Zealand team management for their decision to field three spinners in their playing eleven and believes that Ish Sodhi can make the biggest impact out of the three.
"It was a good call by New Zealand to play three spinners. Ish Sodhi can win you a match with three-four wickets," he said.