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As expected India won both the matches against New Zealand in the recently concluded Test series. Indian team is a force in home condition and routing the number eighth side in ICC Test rankings New Zealand wasn’t supposed to be difficult.
But after the second Test everyone would accept the fact that the Indian team was stretched to the limits and the visitors were in the game till the last 30-40 runs. Second Test was played in Bangalore and the pitch behaved in a manner that the people are not used to seeing in India. The pitch had a tinge of green and the overhead conditions ensured that there was something for the fast bowlers.
India won the match, but the Bangalore pitch revealed the weakness in the Indian side that resulted in them losing eight consecutive Tests abroad. Fans of Test cricket praised the curator for coming up with a pitch that had something for everyone. The Test match saw two beautiful hundreds and three five wicket-hauls -- two from spinners and one from the fast bowler. It was a perfect Test match to watch. But the question that arises is whether the Indian team is ready to play on these pitches.
Indian captain in the post-match presentation ceremony said that the pitch was more like Napier than Bangalore. He has continuously stressed on the point that the Indian team should play on turners when they are playing in India as when his team travel abroad they play to their opponent’s strength, which are seaming conditions. Dhoni’s comment does make sense. Hyderabad pitch was good for spinners and India won the match comprehensively by an innings. Bangalore pitch had a bit for the seamers and Indian team had to struggle to win the match.
Let’s have a look at some of the aspects that shows why the Indian team should avoid pitches like Bangalore in the future.
Indian team lost 15 wickets in Bangalore Test and 12 of them were taken by Kiwi fast bowlers. Yes, fast bowling is their strength but the Kiwi fast bowlers dominated the Indian batsmen for most part of the match. Tim Southee, who was not picked in the first Test, took seven wickets in the first innings. There were a lot of play and miss in both the Indian innings. If New Zealand batsmen would have complimented their bowling a bit better in the second innings than the story could have been a lot different.
Let’s talk about Indian bowling now. 14 out of the 20 Kiwi wickets that fell were taken by Indian spinners on a pitch that assisted the fast bowlers. The amazing thing is that Indian captain MS Dhoni gave the new ball to left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha in the first innings on Day 1 under the overhead conditions, that probably shows how much trust he has on his fast bowlers. In both the innings, Umesh Yadav and Zaheer Khan were the most expensive bowlers for India.
Indian team will now face England and Australia in the coming months. Both these teams embarrassed India when the Men-In-Blue travelled to their country. One thing common between England and Australia is that both these teams possess a lethal pace attack and Indian batsmen will be very well aware of that fact.
It is good to play on sporting pitches, but the most important thing is to win. MS Dhoni will not want to give any chance to these teams because of the quality they have in their pace-bowling attack. India were stretched by a weak side on a pitch that assisted the pace bowlers, one could only imagine what will happen to the Indian team if the pitch is conducive to pace bowlers against top Test teams.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network