The swiftness of India's win on the fourth day of the Nagpur Test was pleasantly surprising considering the way the New Zealanders had resisted in the first two Test matches. Yes, there were a couple of calls which did their chances no good, but overall the Kiwi effort in Nagpur was disappointing to say the least.
It is not easy to play two back to back Test matches leave alone three and more often than not it is the touring team that suffers in the third Test. The home team has the advantage of picking from any number of players but a touring team especially if it is from a country so far as New Zealand is from India does find that it has to carry on with some players that are not in form since their squad is limited to the tour party.
Dhoni's strength is hitting, not nudging around
India's win was a team effort with the seamers setting up the initial breakthroughs and then letting the spinners come into their own. Then the awesome batting machine cranked into action to pile up over 550 runs and give the bowlers enough runs as well as time to get the opposition out for the second time in the match. Sreesanth bowled a terrific spell on day one and inspired Ishant to bowl quickly and accurately to keep the pressure on.
What both will understand hopefully sooner than later, is that at the highest level, it is the late movement that defeats batsmen and gets wickets. The deliveries that got McCullum and Guptill out in the first innings at Nagpur were bowled in the mid-130s kph which is not express but it was the late movement that got the batsmen.
Trying to bowl too fast gets bowlers to drop their length which only allows batsmen more time to see the ball and adjust their shot. What was most encouraging was the rhythm both had and when Zaheer comes back, the three man new ball attack will be a formidable one especially on South African pitches.
Harbhajan and Ojha also varied their pace cleverly and utilised the bounce and turn to great effect and the Kiwis had nowhere to escape from the all round attack that Dhoni had at his command. Dhoni also used Raina smartly and the two wickets he got and the zest that he brings to the field is infectious. The left-hander has struggled with the bat after his dazzling debut but is a keen and a quick learner which is always a plus.
India vs New Zealand
The much awaited century from 'the master' did not materialise but as events turned out, it wasn't needed in this series but will certainly help India in South Africa. The centuries from Harbhajan were a delight since it shows how much thought and effort he has put in getting better at batting.
Dravid's huge ton and Sehwag's toying with the Kiwi bowling were the other batting highlights, not to forget VVS Laxman's innings in Ahmedabad where he along with Harbhajan saved India from embarrassment. Gambhir showed he was willing to work hard for his runs and Dhoni was back to his aggressive best in Nagpur.
It was thus a good team effort all round and augurs well for the much sterner test ahead in South Africa.
Professional Management Group