There was much to admire about India’s spirited display in the second innings of the first Test, but there were also some worrying aspects which, if not curbed, could cause more consternation in the future. Chasing 400 plus was never going to be easy despite the fact that the pitch had eased but not worn out, for it needs a big hundred and a couple of meaty partnerships to get to the target.
Shikhar Dhawan, who was sitting on a pair, started off in a frenzy as if playing lots of shots will turn around his bad patch. That kind of approach seldom works, and Dhawan quickly realised that and settled down to play a terrific innings.
Though the New Zealand bowlers are by no means express in speed, they move the ball nicely and bowl the kind of length that invites the push drive. India fell to that in the first innings, but Dhawan and Kohli avoided the temptation to go hard at the ball and waited for the right ball to come along to hit for runs.
Pujara's loss early to a gem of a delivery was a big blow, for he is the one the team looks to hold one end up and give it the solidity so that the stroke players around him can play their shots a little freely.
Tim Southee and Trent Boult got the ball to move, but it was Wagner who got the major wickets and that too with the short ball. The short ball no longer is a fearsome prospect with all the protective gear around, but it is still very effective against India simply because the batsmen hardly seem to practice against it. It is not just about leaving it but when to attack it that is crucial. A mature rather than a macho approach is needed.
Kohli is the best player that India have, but on this trip he has got out to it more times than is ideal. Not for a moment is it being suggested that he should drop the shot, but it does appear that he wants to show that he is not intimidated by it, and so he looks to score off every short ball which spells trouble.
India's players are professionals now and they should thus be prepared to go into battle with all their tools ready. Seeing Rohit Sharma continuously fiddle with his helmet and Ravindra Jadeja with the rubber grip on his bat handle was not a good sign.
It meant that they had not taken care of those things before they went out to bat. Batting in foreign conditions is tough as it is, and it doesn’t help when a batsman is constantly adjusting something or the other, for it clearly takes away from the focus on the job.
There is much that is wonderful about this Indian team. Unfortunately we seem to only see it in India.
Professional Management Group