India have cruised to a 372-run victory after swiftly bowling out New Zealand on day four to claim their two-game Test series 1-0.

Jayant Yadav claimed four wickets within nine legal deliveries after the Black Caps resumed at 140-5 chasing an improbable 540 on the fourth day in Mumbai, eventually dismissing the visitors for 167.

Indian opener Mayank Agarwal was named Player of the Match after his first innings 150 set up the win, backing that up with a second innings half-century.

New Zealand left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel had taken a sensational 10-wicket haul in the first innings but the Black Caps struggled for runs, making only 229 for the game.

The margin was India's biggest win by runs in Test history, along with New Zealand's most significant runs defeat. It was also India's 14th consecutive Test series triumph at home.

Ashwin reaches 300 Test scalps at home

Ravichandran Ashwin fittingly claimed the final wicket to secure victory for India, with overnight batsman Henry Nicholls (44) stumped by Wriddhiman Saha, securing eight scalps for the game, with 34-4 in the second innings.

The 35-year-old off-spinner was India's most fruitful bowler for the game but also brought up his 300th wicket on home soil with Nicholls' dismissal. The wicket also was Ashwin's 50th for the calendar year.

Ashwin had feasted on New Zealand's tail-end in the first innings, but claimed four of the top five in the second.

Agarwal exceeds history maker

The exceptional nature of Agarwal's game was underlined by the fact he won Player of the Match honours ahead of someone who took the third 10-wicket haul in Test cricket history.

Agarwal made 212 runs for the game, 17 shy of New Zealand's entire total and his contribution did not stop there, taking the catch for tail-ender Will Somerville's wicket on the fourth day, the ninth to fall.

Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the fifth and final Ashes Test scheduled to be played in Perth has been relocated due to Western Australia's border strictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ashes showdown between Australia and tourists England was set to be staged at Perth's Optus Stadium from January 14-18, however, the state's strict travel strictions has forced the series finale to be moved.

While CA announced the relocation of the Perth Test on Monday, no new host has been confirmed, with Hobart among the possible locations.

Melbourne – the scene for the Boxing Day Test – and Sydney, which will host the fourth Test, have been floated as possible new host venues for the Test match.

Under Western Australia's current border rules, visitors from New South Wales – where the fourth Test is due to take place from January 5-9 – must complete 14 days quarantine upon arrival.

Talks between CA and the WA state government had seemed to be heading in a positive direction last month, with a potentially shorter and more relaxed quarantine period for players, their families and match and broadcast staff, but the emergence of the Omicron variant has reaffirmed the state's hardline stance on borders.

"While absolutely every effort was made to ensure the final Test match of the series could be staged in Perth, border controls, quarantine requirements and the complexities of staging a five-Test series in a tight schedule have meant it is unfortunately not possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, CA and WA Cricket," CA said in a statement.

WA Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti had publicly spoken about a proposal to shift the order of the Tests, with Perth replacing the second Test in Adelaide starting December 16 – given borders remain open between WA and Queensland where the first Test will be held – but CA closed the door on that idea.

"These complexities also mean that any suggestion of changing the order of the venues would not be feasible," the statement said. "Discussions about a replacement venue for the fifth Test match are underway."

The decision is a major blow for WA Cricket and Perth, which missed out on a Test match during the last Australian summer following the postponement of a one-off game against Afghanistan.

WA Cricket CEO Christina Matthews said: "We are extremely disappointed for our Members, fans, Commercial Partners and the wider WA cricket community as well as all our staff and players who have been looking forward to and planning for the first ever Ashes to be played at Perth Stadium.

"We've been working closely and constructively with the WA Government and Cricket Australia for many months to bring this fixture to Perth amid the pandemic-related challenges we've faced.

"While this decision is very difficult to accept, the complexity of staging the Test in the face of strict border controls and quarantine requirements has resulted in it not being possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, Cricket Australia, and WA Cricket."

The first Ashes Test begins in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Australia will be expected to ensure normal service is resumed in the heat of an Ashes battle at the Gabba when they start a new era on Wednesday.

The Tim Paine sexting scandal presented Pat Cummins with the opportunity to become the first fast bowler to captain the Australia Test side.

Cummins was appointed less than a fortnight before his side start their defence of the urn against fierce rivals England, with Steve Smith his assistant as Paine takes an indefinite mental health break from cricket. 

The paceman has long since been talked of as a potential successor to Paine and gets his chance earlier than expected.

Cummins was already on a high from playing his part in Australia's maiden T20 World Cup triumph in Dubai last month and should thrive on the extra responsibility of being skipper.

Australia have not played a Test since they were consigned to a 2-1 home defeat to India in January and although England have had plenty of action in the longest format this year, poor weather in Brisbane has badly hampered their preparations.

Stats Perform picks out some of the storylines, sprinkled with some Opta data, from an Australia perspective before one of the great sporting rivalries gets under way again.

 

Cummins to get Australia going?

Cummins has led Australia's pace attack on many occasions and was the pick of the bowlers in a 2-2 Ashes series draw in England two years ago, taking 29 wickets at average of 19.62.

Since the start of 2018, no bowler has claimed more scalps in the longest format than the 28-year-old's 128 - which have come at 19.9 apiece.

Cummins, the number one Test bowler in the world, will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of ripping into what has been a fragile England batting line-up.

Josh Hazlewood will also pose a huge threat and Mitchell Starc will be out to silence critics such as Shane Warne, while Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser show Australia's strength in depth in the pace ranks.

 

Gabba no longer a fortress?

Australia had not lost a Test at the Gabba for 33 years until India's famous victory in January.

Joe Root fanned the flames last month by stating the hostile Brisbane venue is no longer such a "stronghold" for Australia.

It has most certainly not been a happy hunting ground for England, who have only won four of 21 Tests at the stage for the curtain-raiser for the series. The tourists' last Test win at the Gabba came in November 1986.

England have not won a Test in Australia since January 2011, losing nine and drawing one of their previous 10 contests, and they will be braced for a barrage of pace when they start their quest to regain the urn this week.

 

England must find an answer to Smith and Labuschagne 

The England bowlers had seen more than enough of Smith by the end of the 2019 series.

He racked up 774 runs at an average of 110.57 from seven innings, reaching three figures on three occasions and scoring a sublime 211 at Old Trafford.

The former skipper broke his own record for number of runs in a Test series in the 21st century. Only the great Don Bradman (19) and Jack Hobbs (12) have more Ashes centuries than Smith's 11.

Marnus Labuschagne was also outstanding in England two years ago, averaging 50.42. He has been a revelation at number three and will have a big role to play.

 

Australia in safe hands with Carey?

Alex Carey will take the gloves and make his Test debut at the Gabba in the absence of Paine.

Carey has plenty of experience at the age of 30 and has 83 international white-ball experiences under his belt.

He comes into his Test bow on the back of making a timely century for South Australia against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield and has a chance to cement his spot in the side.

Ravichandran Ashwin struck three times as India closed in on a series victory after Ajaz Patel claimed New Zealand's second-best Test match figures on day three at the Wankhede Stadium.

India declared on 276-7 in Mumbai on Sunday to set the Black Caps a highly improbable 540 to win, and the tourists are facing a crushing defeat in the second and final Test of the series after closing on 140-5.

Patel became only the third bowler to take all 10 wickets in a Test innings on day two and the New Zealand spinner finished with incredible match figures of 14-225, surpassing Ian Botham's 13-106 in Mumbai in 1989 as the best taken against India.

It was very much India's day once again, though, after Mayank Agarwal top scored with 62, having made a magnificent century in the first innings.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill made 47 apiece, while captain Virat Kohli chipped in with 36 before Axar Patel smashed an unbeaten 41 off 26 deliveries.

Ashwin (3-27) came to the fore yet again on a challenging surface after Kohli declared late in the afternoon session, removing openers Tom Latham and Will Young before sending Ross Taylor on his way.

Daryl Mitchell (60) played with great assurance as New Zealand moved beyond their embarrassing first-innings total off 62 all out until he holed out off the bowling of Axar and Tom Blundell was run out for a duck.

Henry Nicholls batted with admirable patience and was still there on 36 at stumps, but India are on the brink of gaining a measure of revenge for their defeat in the inaugural World Test Championship final.

 

Patel only second to Hadlee

Spinner Patel shot to prominence with his astonishing display with the ball in his city of birth on Saturday.

The 33-year-old tweaker's one-man show continued when he dismissed Agarwal and Pujara before Rachin Ravindra (3-56) became the first Black Caps bowler other than Patel to take a wicket in the match, Gill the man to become his first Test victim.

Only Richard Hadlee has claimed better match figures for New Zealand than Patel, when the legendary all-rounder took 15-123 against Australia in November 1985.


Ashwin ending memorable year on a high note

It has been an outstanding year for Ashwin, who followed up his devastating first-innings exploits by reaching the 50-wicket landmark for 2021.

The wily Ashwin took 4-8 on day two and the New Zealand batsmen struggled to read him once again, Latham pinned lbw before Young was caught at short leg and Taylor's positive approach did not pay off when he was taken by Pujara.

Mitchell and Nicholls made a fight out it in a stand of 73, but Ashwin looks poised to take yet another five-wicket haul with two days remaining.

Australia have opted for Travis Head over Usman Khawaja as captain Pat Cummins confirmed the starting XI to face England in the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba.

It was between Head and Khawaja in the race to bat at number five in Wednesday's opener in Brisbane and Australia stuck with the former.

Head, who played in four of the 2019 Ashes Tests and top-scored with 51 at an average of 27.28 before sitting out the final match, has made 394 runs – including two centuries – at 49.25 this Sheffield Shield season.

His overall Test record also stands at an average of 39.75 from 19 matches, including two tons.

Khawaja – without an international appearance in the longest format of cricket since the third Ashes Test in 2019 – also had a pair of hundreds as part of a 460-run haul at 65.71 in the Sheffield Shield.

But new Australia skipper Cummins and selectors preferred Head as they bid to retain the urn, though England are yet to confirm their XI.

"It was a tight one. Both really good options, really strong form," said Cummins on Sunday.

"Experience is great from Uzzie and we feel really lucky to have that in the squad, but Trav's been playing a lot for us the last couple of years.

"He's gone away and he's churned out runs in England, here in Australia, and we feel like he's really ready to go."

Australia quick Mitchell Starc avoided the axe, selectors keeping faith with the paceman alongside fellow pace bowlers Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Starc's position was under threat due to his form and the rise of Jhye Richardson, who had taken 15 wickets in his past two Sheffield Shield matches.

England captain Joe Root declined to announce his team during Sunday's series launch, telling reporters: "We've got all the options on the table [but] we're not going to name a team just yet.

"We'll have to see the closer forecase and how that pitch changes over the next couple of days.

"But it's a great place to play spin. It's something we'll weigh up and consider, but we're not in a position to make that call right now."

 

Australian XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc.

England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Ajaz Patel sensationally became only the third man to take all 10 wickets in a Test innings before India dominated New Zealand on an astonishing day two of the second Test.

Spinner Patel claimed stunning figures of 10-119 as India were bowled out for 325, but the tourists were skittled out for only 62 in reply as the India attack ripped through their batting line-up.

The hosts ended the day 69-0 in their second innings in Mumbai, with a commanding lead of 332 heading into day three.

Patel started where he left off on day one, taking the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha (27) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0) in consecutive balls during the first over, before eventually removing Mayank Agarwal for a brilliant 150.

Axar Patel (52) and Jayant Yadav (12) were the next victims, before Mohammed Siraj (4) edged an attempted sweep to Rachin Ravindra to make it a perfect 10 for Patel.

That was very much where the day peaked for New Zealand as India set about ripping through the Black Caps.

Siraj removed Tom Latham (10) before getting rid of Will Young (4) and Ross Taylor (1) in consecutive balls. The seamer nearly had a hat-trick, but a review show his delivery to Henry Nicholls pitched just outside leg stump.

Ashwin (4-8) then came to the fore, with Kyle Jamieson (17) and Latham the only New Zealand batsmen to make double figures.

Agarwal (38 not out) and Pujara (29no) calmly eased India through to stumps in a dominant position.


Shine slightly taken off historic day for Patel

It is an incredible story. A man born in Mumbai returns as a New Zealand player to take all 10 wickets in an innings. The only thing more surprising involving Patel on day two was that the New Zealand number 11 was out in the middle holding a bat just a couple of hours later.

It was just the third time in the history of men's Test cricket that a bowler has taken every wicket in a single innings, following in the footsteps of Jim Laker in 1956 and Anil Kumble in 1999.

The 33-year-old, who was New Zealand's not-out batsman, would probably appreciate a bit more help from his team-mates on day three.

Ashwin bowls devastating spell

New Zealand were already reeling after Siraj (3-19) reduced them to 17-3, but having seen what the spin of Patel had achieved, they must have been fretting about what Ashwin would do when he came on, and with good cause.

The 35-year-old bamboozled the tourists - missing injured captain Kane Williamson - and Axar Patel took 2-14 as the winners of the inaugural World Test Championship were humiliated.  

Ajaz Patel enjoyed a remarkable day two of the second Test between India and New Zealand as he claimed all 10 wickets in the hosts' first innings on Saturday.

Patel finished with figures of 10-119 in 47.5 overs in Mumbai, where he was born, as the tourists bowled out India for 325.

It was just the third time in the history of men's Test cricket that a bowler has taken a clean sweep of wickets in a single innings. The previous players to achieve the feat were Jim Laker in 1956 and Anil Kumble in 1999.

Shubman Gill was caught at slip after India had posted a commanding 80 without loss to start the day, and Patel followed up by skittling Cheteshwar Pujara and trapping Virat Kohli lbw – each for a duck – in the same over.

Shreyas Iyer followed before Wriddhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin went in consecutive deliveries, although India had by this time moved to 224-6.

Mayank Agarwal, Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav fell for the loss of 30 more runs, and history was made when Rachin Ravindra caught Mohammed Siraj's high slice.

Australia's Aaron Finch described the innings as "the most amazing thing I've ever seen" while former India star VVS Laxman tweeted to say: "Sensational! Just sensational!! To take all 10 wickets in a Test innings is the stuff dreams are made of."

Former India head coach and all-rounder Ravi Shastri added: "One of the toughest things to do in the game of cricket. To have an entire team in your kitty in an innings is too good to be true. Simply unreal. Well done young man."

Mayank Agarwal held India's innings together with a terrific century on day one of the second Test against New Zealand, as Virat Kohli's return to the team saw the captain dismissed for a duck.

India posted 221-4 in Mumbai, with Agarwal 120 not out at stumps after a valiant effort at the top of the order.

All the wickets went to New Zealand's left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who at one point reduced India from 80-0 to 80-3 when he removed Shubman Gill for 44 and added the wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli in quick succession.

Kohli had spoken on Thursday of being determined to go the "hard yards" where necessary for India's sake, having missed the recent T20I series and the first Test in order to take a breather.

Ajaz had Gill caught by Ross Taylor at slip before bowling Pujara with a heavily turning delivery and getting an lbw verdict to dismiss Kohli, who was not reprieved by a review with no sign of an inside edge.

Partners came and went, but Agarwal - who kept his place in the team while Ajinkya Rahane missed out through injury - ploughed on, making a case to stay in the side for India's next assignments, although Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul may have something to say about that. Rohit has been rested for this series, which Rahul has missed due to injury.

Shreyas Iyer, who had a century and a fifty in the first Test, fell for 18 this time around to end an 80-run partnership for the fourth wicket, and Agarwal and Wriddhiman Saha (25no) put on 61 to guide India through to the close with no further casualties, leaving the deciding match of a two-game series finely poised.


Agarwal earns his place

A cover drive off Daryl Mitchell took Agarwal into three figures, his fourth Test century. He then spanked Ajaz for six from the penultimate ball of the evening to cap an impressive day's effort. Agarwal has converted two of his previous tons into doubles, against South Africa and Bangladesh, and will hope to do the same here, having revealed some words of advice from coach Rahul Dravid.

"He had told me, 'When you get set, make it big'," Agarwal said. "I am happy to have capitalised on the start that I had. But that message was very clear from Rahul, that I should make it count.

"This innings was more about grit and determination, just to stick with the plan and be disciplined. I know I didn't look good sometimes, but I got the job done. Getting runs in this format, the hardest format of the game, is the most satisfying feeling."

Special day for Ajaz

Four wickets anywhere is good going for a bowler, but for Ajaz this doubtless felt particularly special. He was born in Mumbai and emigrated with his family to New Zealand in 1996, going on to make his Test debut in 2018. Now 33 years old, he put India in a spin and will be chasing a third Test five-wicket haul on Saturday.

Virat Kohli is ready to put in the "hard yards" with the bat as he returns to India duty for the series-deciding second Test against New Zealand.

Captain Kohli elected to sit out the T20I series and the first Test against the Black Caps and has been working with former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar during his time away from the team.

He has made 41 centuries across all formats as captain of India, which puts him level with Ricky Ponting for the most while serving as an international skipper, and Kohli declared he feels ready to stay at the crease for a long time in Mumbai. Kohli's last international century came over two years ago, in November 2019 against Bangladesh.

Ahead of Friday's start to the match, rain impeded the teams and meant practice sessions at the Wankhede Stadium could not go ahead as planned on the eve of the Test.

Both sides were toying with selection options as a result of the weather, and it remained to be seen who would make way for Kohli's return, with Ajinkya Rahane perhaps the batter most vulnerable despite captaining India in the first Test.

Kohli said: "I really enjoy playing at the Wankhede. That's a ground that I've always had happy memories in. More than that, I think it's the impact you leave on the team that matters to me more. That was the focus in the past and that's precisely my focus every time I take the field.

"If the situation demands me to bat for longer periods and get the amount of runs that puts the team in a pole position or a dominant position or gets the team out of trouble, I take a lot of pride in doing that.

"Not all the time will you have phases where you bat the same way, and you have to understand and accept that in a long career span, so it's all about putting in the hard yards, working hard on your game, staying very balanced, staying in a space where you understand you are progressing in the right direction, and you walk on the field knowing you're prepared fully and you're ready to give your best, and after that it's all about execution.

"You have to be professional and understand when there is lack of execution or there is a lack of good decision-making. That's always been my point of analysis on my personal game, whether I've committed a mistake, what the situation was like, how can I improve, how can I get better, and that is something I will continue to strive to do and try to put in the performances that help the team in any way that I can."

It will be Kohli's first match under new coach Rahul Dravid, and follows on from the drawn opening Test in Kanpur that saw New Zealand's 10th-wicket pairing of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel defy India, clinging on for the draw late on the fifth day.


Spin or extra speed? The choice facing both teams

With plenty of moisture in the air, and the suspicion the Mumbai pitch will serve the quicks well, there could well be changes to the bowling line-ups on both teams. India would consider bringing in Mohammed Siraj, while New Zealand have Neil Wagner waiting to come in, with William Somerville potentially vulnerable.

India chasing hat-trick of Wankhede wins

The hosts last played a Test at this ground in 2016, when Kohli made a double century in an innings win over England. They also won at the ground in the match before that, also by an innings but this time against West Indies. Victory by any means would be welcomed by India this time, given this is the second and last match in the series. They have won four of nine Tests at the ground since 2000, with South Africa, Australia and England (twice) having also enjoyed victories at the Wankhede.

Alex Carey is set to make his Test debut in the Ashes opener between Australia and England in Brisbane next week.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced Carey will replace former captain Tim Paine as wicketkeeper in the team for the first two Tests, starting December 8 at the Gabba.

Debutant Carey will be behind the stumps after Paine – who stood down as skipper having been embroiled in a sexting scandal – took a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the "foreseeable future".

"I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity. It’s an exciting build-up for what is a huge series ahead," Carey – Australia's one-day international wicketkeeper – said in a statement

"My focus is on preparing and playing my part in helping Australia secure the Ashes.

"This is also for my dad who has been my coach, mentor and mate, my mum, my wife Eloise, kids Louis and Clementine, my brother and sister and all of those who have supported me. I will be doing my absolute best to make them and our country proud."

Carey has averaged just 21.85 runs over eight innings with the bat in the Sheffield Shield, though the left-hander has been a consistent performer over the years.

The South Australia star has averaged 59.64, scoring four centuries in nine matches.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Joe Root's side get their campaign started on December 8 in Brisbane and will be boosted by the return of their star all-rounder Stokes.

The 30-year-old has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

But Stokes was subsequently added to the travelling party in October as he assured he was ready to make a comeback for the tour and first Test at The Gabba.

Stokes, who averages 38.37 against Australia, offered England a scare when he took a blow to the forearm in a net session last week before Root confirmed the Durham man was fit. 

With just a week to go before the two old foes do battle once more, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to take on Justin Langer's side.

 

"Don't call it a comeback," Stokes posted on Instagram alongside a video of him training with bat and ball on Wednesday.

"Spent some time testing out the finger with [Adidas] last month.

"Two months ago, I couldn't hold a bat. With one week to go till the first Test, I'm fit and hungry for a big series Down Under!"

Jos Buttler insists he has "nothing to lose" as England prepare for their Ashes battle with Australia.

Captain Joe Root's side begin their quest for glory on December 8 in Brisbane as they look to inflict a blow on Australia, who recently enjoyed T20 World Cup success in the United Arab Emirates.

Buttler, who is England's vice-captain and wicket-keeper in the longest format, has never played a Test match Down Under and averages just 20.50 in 18 red-ball innings against Australia – only against South Africa does he average fewer runs.

But the 31-year-old intends to embrace the fearless approach that served him so well at the T20 World Cup, where he bludgeoned 269 runs at an average of 89.66.

"I feel like I have nothing to lose, to be honest," Buttler told reporters at Tuesday's virtual news conference.

"It's sort of been a disjointed year, the one just gone. Some good form and some bad form and in the year before as well.

"But I certainly have nothing to lose. I come here and it's the first time I'm experiencing an Ashes series [in Australia] so I'm fully determined to enjoy all the challenges that throws up.

"I'm excited to experience it: the good, the bad, and I'm sure the highs and lows along the way.

"As a player at the minute I'm trying to bring a fearless approach and to truly try and embrace the opportunity.

"I sort of feel like I'm in that stage in my career with nothing to lose, but to give my best, and I know when I get to somewhere near my best that's going to be pretty good."

The Ashes has already been hitting the headlines with Australia captain Tim Paine stepping down to take a break away from cricket for mental health reasons following a lewd-texting scandal.

Pat Cummins takes the leadership role as the fast bowler becomes Australia's 47th Test captain, and Buttler claims whoever can ignore off-field issues the best will succeed.

"Around the Ashes there's always certain things that go on. The guys that can sort of park off-field issues or deal with the distractions an Ashes series throws up, and perform well when the ball is being delivered, is the team that's going to play best," he said.

Despite having not played a Test match in Australia before, Buttler believes he can call upon white-ball experiences to compete against Cummins' new side.

"I've not played a red-ball game out here, bar some Lions cricket a number of years ago," he said.

"I've been to Australia quite a few times and played ODIs, T20s and the Big Bash as well.

"So familiarity with some conditions is something I can dip into and hopefully not be surprised by. But I think the challenge always as a player is to adapt to any conditions that are in front of you and adapt quickly.

"But certainly, I will try to dip into that experience, and I'm in my early 30s now so have played quite a bit of cricket and hopefully know what to expect."

A nail-biting first Test between India and New Zealand ended in a draw, despite the hosts coming within one wicket of victory in Kanpur on day five.

Some expert spin bowling from Ravindra Jadeja (4-40) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-35) helped India reduce their opponents to 165-9, but they were denied the win by some determined batting and poor light.

A slow-moving pitch that showed little sign of day five deterioration made it difficult for either team to aggressively seek victory, and despite a brief flurry from Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, the Black Caps rarely looked like playing for anything other than a draw.

Resuming on 4-1 and chasing a target of 284, New Zealand set about frustrating the hosts, not losing any wickets before lunch despite the presence of nightwatchman Will Somerville, who lasted 110 balls and managed 36 runs before succumbing to a brilliant catch from Shubman Gill off the bowling of Umesh Yadav.

Latham (52) and Williamson (24) then occupied the crease for another 19 overs, though Latham was eventually back in the pavilion after being bowled by Ashwin.

Ross Taylor (2), Henry Nicholls (1) and then Williamson all fell to lbw decisions to give India hope, but Tom Blundell (2) and Rachin Ravindra (18) took another nine overs out of the game before the former unluckily clipped the ball onto his stumps.

Jadeja thought he had Ravindra lbw but the initial out decision was reversed on review with the impact outside off stump, but after taking the second new ball just a few overs later, the same bowler trapped Kyle Jameison (5) instead, this time successfully, and Tim Southee (4) soon followed to leave New Zealand 155-9.

Urgency gripped India with the light fading over the Green Park Stadium, but they were unable to dislodge either Ravindra or Ajaz Patel, who defended the final nine overs before bad light stopped play.

The second Test begins on Friday in Mumbai.

Spin almost leads to win for India

India began the morning session as favourites, but an inability to dislodge nightwatchman Will Somerville looked certain to cost them.

A second session fightback was followed by steadily taking more wickets in the final session, and the bowling in particular of Ashwin and Jadeja took their team to the edge of a win that had seemed impossible at lunch, with all four of the latter's wickets coming via lbw. Fortune swung the way of New Zealand, though, who held on for the draw.

Latham and Somerville save the day for Black Caps

Latham shone with a first-innings 95, followed up by a vital 52 in the second, though more crucial was the 146 balls he ticked off as well as managing an improbable partnership of 76 with Somerville that took 32 overs out of the game.

It was Ravindra and Patel who were the heroes at the end, holding off one last India attack in the final overs, but the work during the morning session from Latham and Somerville is what gave them the opportunity to do so.

Shreyas Iyer and Wriddhiman Saha made crucial fifties on another topsy-turvy day on day four of the first Test between India and New Zealand.

The hosts recovered from 51-5 in their second innings with Test debutant Iyer (65) following up an impressive century in the first, and Saha adding an unbeaten 61 before India declared on 234-7.

Chasing a target of 284, New Zealand lost Will Young (2) early in their reply and needing 280 runs to win ahead of what promises to be a tense final day.

Resuming on 14-1, India lost five wickets in a troublesome morning session with Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson snagging a pair of wickets and Ajaz Patel also doing damage.

Iyer was once again his team's main protagonist, though, putting on partnerships of 52 and 64 with Ashwin (32) and Saha to turn the tide.

He eventually nicked Southee behind to Tom Blundell but Saha, who had four fours and one six in his knock, continued to frustrate the tourists and an eighth-wicket stand of 77 with Axar Patel convinced stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane to call it.

As the light began to dwindle, only four overs were possible in New Zealand's reply, but there was still enough time for Ashwin to trap Young (2) lbw, who was too late calling for a review that would have shown the ball missing leg stump.

Debut to remember for Iyer

In a Test match relatively short of runs, the 170 across both innings from Iyer has been vitally important for his team, and is particularly impressive given he last played a multi-day match nearly three years ago.

Iyer hit eight fours and a six from the 125 balls he faced on Sunday, but most importantly, he dragged India back into the Test match and will be a strong contender for player of the match should his team complete the job on day five.

New Zealand unable to keep India down

It was the second time in as many days that New Zealand forced themselves into an excellent position, before allowing India to regain control as the day progressed.

After collapsing from 197-2 to 296 all out in their first innings on day three, the Black Caps had India reeling with only five wickets remaining and a 100-run lead, before allowing them to add a further 183 with the next two wickets before the declaration.

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