The series between India – NZ had been tagged as a series between David and Goliath, rather a newly formed Goliath. India- the numero uno side in the test ratings, was relishing its series victory against the Aussies, on the other hand NZ was recovering from an embarrassing loss to the minnows Bangladesh in a ODI series. India has always been a tough place to tour for the kiwis. They were expected to be defeated in all 3 test matches, by India quite comfortably. But as often, the results of the 2 tests, turned out to be so impressive for the kiwis and for the kiwi admirers like me.
NZ with no big star player has been a combative team in the international scene, for a long time. It is a team, which has one of the Best captain at its helm, a closely knitted unit with a never say die attitude and most importantly a team which you can never take for granted. The Indian Media did exactly that, they undermine the values of this NZ team, pining hopes that Dhoni and his men would win the series hands down. Even the pundits like Ajay Jadeja stated that NZ cannot think of winning a match in the series. As it turned out they have not won a match yet, but they were able to secure draws in both the matches.
First test at Motera, one of the batting paradises in India, showed what NZ is capable of doing. India posted a big score in the first innings, thanks to Sehwag and Dravid. NZ response was a fitting one, a measured 60 runs from an opener, a century from a debutant (Williamson) – after he had arrived at the crease at a critical situation, another century from a player (Ryder) who always does well against India and a handy 41 runs from the captain (Vettori). They gave a tough fight that the Indian bowlers found it real hard to dismiss them. The scenes, which were unfolded in the Indian 2nd innings, were nothing short of a drama. The great Indian batting team was brought down on its knees. The team was reduced to 15/5 by a wonderful piece of seam bowling by Chris Martin and a superb run out. And had it not been for the heroics of Layman and Harbhajan, the result could have been a shocking one for the Indians. NZ were able to take 20 wickets, though they were short of one bowler in the 2nd innings.
The second test match was not much different from the first one. Both teams piled up runs and as a result match had to end in a draw. But, the NZ team once again put up a brave show, with Mccullum leading the way with a double century in the 2nd innings. When taking into account that the Aussies found themselves, in the wrong side of the table in the recent series on both the occasions, NZ managed to draw 2 test matches, which is a great achievement in itself. This shows the quality of the NZ team. They were always tough opponents to beat and they showed here once again that they still are a fighting team.
One reason for the draws could be that the pitches were so flat, that teams were able to score 400+ at ease. Both the pitches were so docile, that even Harbhajan scored 2 consecutive centuries (not to take the credit from the sardar), but the fact is that, the pitches were so batsman friendly. But, even in that wicket Martin, was able to pick up a 5 for in the second innings. Had the pitches been more sportive, who knows NZ might be leading 1-0 by now.
Australian team during it’s hey days, has never taken any opposition slightly. They had the ruthlessness, which made them the invincible for more than a decade. One never know, whether Indian team took NZ as an easy opponent, but the way the matchs turned out, it looks like they have taken NZ lightly. Complacency is a biggest detrimental factor for any great team. Indian team has always a nature to fall into this trap so easily. Care must be taken that they avoid that trap to retain their No1 spot.
One might consider this writer to be too much of an alarmist, but the point is that this hard-earned position of No1 should not be let go off easily by our team. After all, who will not want his/her team to be No1 in both Test and ODI’s? 🙂