India were barely stretched as their spinners bowled them to an innings win over New Zealand. India has thus begun the season in style and shown that back in familiar environs they are a different team than when travelling abroad.
That the Kiwis were not able to score many more than what Pujara got in one innings is a sad statement on the application, and technical ability of their batsmen, and if the Bangalore pitch also is going to aid spin then we could have another short Test match.
New Zealand were more impressive when they were in India just a couple of years ago here. McCullum got a big score and young Williamson got a ton on debut. McCullum failed in this game and Williamson got a good half century, but the rest of the batsmen were just not able to combat the spinners.
Ross Taylor the skipper did not have a productive tour two years back and the manner in which he is staying rooted to the crease does not augur well for him this time too. Unless he comes out with a much more positive frame of mind, he will be consumed again and that will put enormous pressure on the young and inexperienced batting.
McCullum also has to pull his weight and to his credit he did show a lot more application in the second innings. Martin Guptill is the other batsman who batted well last time around and the opening batmen giving a good solid platform will be crucial in Bangalore.
Ashwin got another six wickets and once again the manner in which he mixed his deliveries was terrific. Pragyan Ojha got the well set Williamson out to a beautiful flighted delivery and this performance should give him the confidence that in Test cricket flighting the ball gets more rewards.
Most of India’s spinners tend to bowl quicker stuff since they look to stop runs rather than take wickets and while there is a place for restrictive bowling when your team has not got too many runs on the board, it does pay handsomely when you toss the ball up if you can afford to give a few runs away.
Dhoni obviously has a lot more confidence in the left hander than Aswhin, since he gave the left hander the ball first, despite Ashwin taking six wickets in the first innings.
Umesh Yadav also struck at vital times, but Zaheer looked a bit off colour. It is of course early in the season and we know that the more Zaheer bowls the better he gets. India’s win may tempt the selectors to go in with an extra spinner in Bangalore, but the balance looks just right.
India have gone in recent times with six batsmen plus skipper Dhoni, and that has worked for them so that won’t change unless India gets a top quality all-rounder, who can bat at number six. But then not too many teams in the world have that luxury apart from South Africa, who have the incredible Kallis in their top order and who bowls genuinely quick with the ball too.
Well begun is half done and with a long season ahead, this win is a very good beginning indeed.
Professional Management Group