Cricket loves its clichés. The main reason for this is that a lot of them turn out to be the case on a regular basis. Test cricket in India is the ultimate case in point.
We heard a lot of these over the last five days.
Playing India in India is tough.
You bet it is. Let’s blame England. They won a four test series there in 2012 and since then India have dug in, dried out the pitches, and have been unstoppable at home. That series has a lot to answer for.
India’s performance at home since the England series in 2012
D (rain affected game v SA)
— Sarang Bhalerao (@bhaleraosarang) September 26, 2016
They beat Australia 4-0 in the Homeworkgate series the following year before humiliating South Africa a year ago. That was a four test series where the tourists managed one individual score of over 50.
You take hollow victories where you can. There were four half centuries from New Zealand batsmen in this test.
Indian batsmen are the best players of spin going around.
This should not be used as an excuse for the New Zealand bowling, but it is true. The confidence when using the feet, the use of crease, and the ability to play late.
In both innings they seemed to get the amount of positivity to use right, always cashing in on the bad ball (Kohli excepted), finding gaps with apparent ease and tight defence when needed.
The New Zealand spin trio lacked that international edge, partly due to their lack of experience. Jeetan Patel reinforces the attack. If there was a hatchet between him and New Zealand cricket, as some enjoy speculating, it is good that they have buried it; even if it is for just this one series.
We need the DRS.
Test cricket is in a strange state when it comes to the use of technology. Despite all the outrage over the weekend there was only one real howler (Ronchi) that went against New Zealand. That was later balanced out by Taylor getting some luck in his very strange second innings.
While the lack of the ability to refer is frustrating you could argue the first innings might have played out like this.
Guptill got a marginal call. He’d have reviewed, as top order batsmen globally do, and it would have been Umpire’s Call.
Ditto Ross Taylor.
So when it came around to Ronchi there was a very good chance there would have been no referrals left.
Plus ca change etc…
Guptill must go
This must surely now be beyond debate. A casual look at the body language proves that. And putting him down to number five would double the vulnerabilities. These troubles can’t be good for his white ball confidence either.
Through the strange selection of this squad all the other options have their downsides. Ronchi is not really an opening batsman, and proved his worth here batting down the order in what turned out to be a surprisingly inspired choice. And his picking up the gloves so Watling can open isn’t really worth considering either. Keeping wicket in India is not easy, and Watling did well in difficult conditions over a long period of time.
There has been talk of Mark Craig filling this role, but no.
Nichols? This could be the best of a series of unpalatable options. The other one would be a presumably fit Jimmy Neesham. It’s a bit grim, isn’t it?
Indian out fielding is always weak.
Some things never change. Until Yadav threw the stumps down from ¾ of the way to the boundary. But there is no way someone playing in his 73rd test be run out with his bat hanging in the air. Or even a school child playing in his or hers seventh game
The toss is crucial-vital
In India it is. If the series is to be levelled in Kolkata it will need some luck before the match starts. There was valid talk after the second day that New Zealand had won four of the five sessions. That was probably true, but it was the non session that mattered most.