India got off to dream start against New Zealand, defeating them by an innings and 115 runs in the first Test match of the two match series. Everyone expected India to win against the number eighth ranked New Zealand side, but the manner in which MS Dhoni’s men dominated their counterpart was great to watch for an Indian cricket fan, especially after their eight straight losses in Test cricket.
Everything went according to plan for the ‘Men In Blue’, as India won the toss on a slow pitch, posted a good total and then bowled New Zealand twice in 140 overs. The win should be celebrated because it is a new look Indian team which is playing. Indian team is going through a transition period and the best part about the win was the contribution that the young guns made.
Young Indian batsmen (Pujara 159 and Kohli 58) scored almost half the runs that Indian team scored. And when it came to bowling, the young bowlers picked all the 20 Kiwi wickets. Zaheer Khan, who is the most experienced Indian bowler, went wicket-less in both the innings.
For New Zealand, it was a horrible match as they virtually surrendered in front of the Indians in all the aspects. They did start well with the ball, but lost the control as the innings progressed. New Zealand’s batting would be their biggest problem. They couldn’t get past the 200 run mark in both the innings and looked lost against the Indian spinners.
The second Test match will be played at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and New Zealand somehow will be happy with the venue as the Bangalore wicket always has a bit of pace and bounce for the seamers. It is raining in Bangalore and the overhead condition will definitely give some assistance to the pace bowlers with the new ball.
Indian team will obviously walk in the Test match as clear favorites. But, one thing that will be bothering the team management will be the form of some of the senior batsmen. Both Gambhir and Sehwag played bad strokes to get out and even Sachin Tendulkar looked uncomfortable on the pitch. In the bowling department, the Indian team will be hoping that Zaheer gets back his wicket-taking form sooner than later. He bowled 24 overs in Hyderabad without taking a wicket. Umesh Yadav also was not at his best and he was the most expensive Indian bowler out of the lot.
For New Zealand, it will be a matter of pride to do well in the match. They were outplayed by West Indies recently and had a horrible outing against India in the first Test. It will be very hard for them to level the series, but a strong performance will definitely boost their confidence. The best chance for New Zealand will be to make early in-roads into the Indian batting and test the relatively in-experienced middle order of India.
For India this series holds much more importance than what it seems to a naked eye. Even if India win the second Test, it won’t have any effect on the ICC Test rankings and India will remain on the number fifth spot. But the thing is India will want all their players to be in top form as the next two teams that will tour India in the coming months are none other England and Australia.
Almost all the batsmen suffered against these two teams and the Test match against New Zealand provides a very good opportunity for Indian players to get their confidence high. Batsmen like Sachin, Sehwag, and Gambhir will know that they missed a golden opportunity in Hyderabad. All these batsmen will be itching to have a go in Bangalore because nothing helps more than scoring runs in the middle.
The second Test match in most likelihood will be no different from the first match, as Indian team has a strong batting unit and Kiwis do not seem to have any answer to the Indian spinners. The only thing that can change the equation is if the ball starts to seam and swing. If that happens than the Kiwi pacemen will be right in with a chance or else it will be a yet another one-sided competition.
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By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network