New Zealand v/s India
Result: New Zealand win by 40 runs
After the first innings, where an absolutely disastrous Indian batting effort resulted in NZ taking a lead of more than 300 runs, the test match was as good as over. This was after McCullum outscored India by 21 runs.
But McCullum refused to enforce the follow on, lest the ghost of VVS remained somewhere Down Under. Instead, NZ almost forfeited an innings, confident enough to give a dispirited Indian team a target of more than 400 to chase down in 2 days.
The second innings of this test match was enigmatic, to say the least. NZ were bowled out, mind you, by an INDIAN bowling attack for 105 runs. Many will have overlooked the crucial last wicket partnership of 25 runs, which helped them to take their lead to 400, when India were on the verge of pulling off a Pakistan-style fightback and victory.
But it didn’t work. India’s batting didn’t quite fail, but in the context of things, both the departments failed in the first innings- a mistake even a brave second innings effort couldn’t change.
India lost the first test by 40 runs, after being 222-2 at one stage with Kohli and Dhawan going great guns at the crease. This wasn’t to last, and the middle order failed again, with Jadeja and Dhoni deciding to scare NZ witless with a minor assault that lasted 5 overs.
The dangerous part about India’s 10th loss in their last 13 away games (3 draws) was that the usual suspects- the non performers- were the ones that stood up and got counted. It was Dhawan on the verge of being dropped, Ishant on the verge of being murdered, and even Rohit on the verge of being talented again- all of them contributed enough to retain their spots, which in turn means that India’s losing squad will NEVER be changed. Pujara had a rare off-test, Kohli was dynamic as ever, and Jadeja has put Ashwin’s test future in danger.
While improvement is visible, it is near unacceptable to lose to a NZ team that hadn’t beaten India in a test since 2002- many will remember that doomed tour. The 2014 tour though, will likely supersede that trainwreck of a tour to take over as India’s most embarrassing overseas blooper. Since defeating Australia 4-0 at home and 3-2 in ODIs there, India have gone 0-2, 0-1 (SA) and 0-4, 0-1 so far in NZ.
Deep inside, this team must be a bit chuffed that Srinivasan will rule the cricketing world- literally- for the next 2 years at the least. But who will prevent India from completing the Future Tour Programme this year? They have to tour England, and then Australia again towards the end.
There may be no respite for a team that didn’t know how to lose last year. Many will argue that Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement has hastened India’s downfall again, conveniently forgetting that this team went 8 tests without even drawing abroad with him around.
There is no formula. There is no shortcut. Even luck, in the form of umpiring and subsequently DRS seems to have deserted the ‘strongest’ team in the world.