Kolkata: The just concluded two-Test series between India and New Zealand is definitely one Virat Kohli and boys would wish to forget like a bad dream. Not only did they lose the two matches, they were humbled in every department laying bare the chinks in their armour which, in recent past, lay hidden under the veneer of success, mostly at home. And what cost India the series was their inability to shave off the tail in both the Tests.
While India did come into the Test series knowing that playing in testing New Zealand conditions was going to be tough. But one aspect that gave many confidence was India's bowling battery. In fact, India were fortunate to get the services of Ishant Sharma ahead of the first Test. It is another story that he had walked into the game not a 100 per cent and ended up sitting out the second game. But what would have hurt India more was the failure against the wagging Kiwi tail.
While Shami and Bumrah did bowl like champions on the second morning of the second Test, even they failed to clean the tail and what could have been a healthy lead of around 60-70 runs, ended up being a single digit lead and with it the Kiwis roared back into the game and sealed it on the third afternoon.
And this has been India's problem for some time now and was all the more evident in New Zealand despite the bowlers getting helpful conditions. Off-spinner R. Ashwin, who did not play the second Test, had said that New Zealand have some good tailenders who can bat really well.
While there is some truth to that, India's below par show can be gauged by numbers which show that while the Kiwi bowlers made the most of the conditions and used their skill to good effect, Indians fell flat on their faces.
The average of New Zealand's eighth to tenth-wicket partnerships stood at 34.16 with two 50-plus stands in this series. In contrast, India's tailenders managed just 124 in four innings at an average of 10.33.
In the first innings of the first Test, the hugely impressive Kyle Jamieson and Colin de Grandhomme added 71 runs for the eighth wicket and then the towering Jamieson and Trent Boult shared 38 runs for the final wicket to take the lead to 183. India lost the Test by 10 wickets.
In the second Test, Jamieson and Neil Wagner shared a 51-run stand for the eighth wicket to keep the first-innings deficit to just seven runs, which in the end proved to be key as India lost by seven wickets. India had New Zealand on the mat in the first essay at 153/7, but from there on the tail wagged long and hit another 82 runs to walk right back into the game.
It was in the 2014-15 period in the successive series in England (average 42.92) and Australia (43.50) that India's bowlers had conceded a higher average to the opposition's last three wickets. Clearly, it is time the bowlers looked at the issue with utmost seriousness.