India-New Zealand Test series was a perfect platform for the Indian team to get back into the winning mode after suffering eight consecutive losses in England and Australia. As expected, India won both the matches. Though they had to sweat it out in the second Test, but overall it was a convincing performance.
Apart from winning, the series was important for two more reasons for the home team. The first was that it was a new look Indian team. It was a team that did not have the likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman and therefore it provided an opportunity to the youngsters. It can be said that barring Suresh Raina, all the other young players cleared their test with flying colours. It were these young players who were responsible for India winning the series 2-0.
The other reason for which the series was important for India was to bring back their struggling players in form ahead of the tougher challenges that awaits them in the coming months. It was a perfect opportunity for Indian players as New Zealand were the number eighth ranked team in the world. But the seniors missed the opportunity. Some of the senior-most members in the team disappointed and hardly contributed to the team’s cause.
Gautam Gambhir: Gambhir takes pride in whatever he does and he will be the first one to admit that he let himself down in the past few Test matches. Gambhir has been in a pretty good knick in one-dayers, but it is the longer format which Gamhir is finding difficult to cope up with. Against New Zealand he only scored 58 runs from three innings. The worrying factor about Gambhir’s batting in Test matches was the way he was getting out. He kept fiddling with the ball outside off-stump. Gambhir will have to quickly change his habit. Gambhir struggled in the past two series as well as scored at an average of 17 in England and 22.62 in Australia.
Sachin Tendulkar: Sachin needs some big runs and he will know it better than anyone else. A lot was expected from the master batsman in the series against New Zealand but he disappointed one and all. People thought that now with him reaching the 100 international hundreds, Sachin will play more freely but that didn’t happen. Sachin scored only 63 runs from three innings and got cleaned up in all the three innings. He looked in good touch in both England and in Australia, but somehow failed to have a big score. It was quite disappointing to see Sachin going through so many series without a hundred to his name. In England he scored at an average of 34.12. A lot was expected from him in Australia because it has always been his happy hunting ground but there as well he could score at an average of only 35.87.
Virender Sehwag: Sehwag is now one of the senior most players in the Indian team and he has to start playing like one. It is true that Sehwag’s flamboyance is what has made him one of the most successful openers of recent time. But in the recent past his approach has looked far too casual. Against New Zealand he did score at an average of 42 but he looked pretty uncomfortable on the pitch. He was lucky to score the amount of runs he scored. He plays far too many bad shots and it looks that he can get out on any ball. Sehwag in England played two matches and scored 41 runs in four innings. In Australia Sehwag could only manage to score at an average of 24.75. The stats show that he has been missing out on quite a few occasion.
Zaheer Khan: Zaheer Khan was coming on the back of a long break and a lot was expected from him. New Zealand team has a pretty ordinary batting line up and Zaheer would have fancied his chances against them. Indian team dismissed their opponent’s in all four innings, but Zaheer could only take four of those wickets. What was most disappointing was to see him struggling to take wickets in Bangalore where the pitch was conducive for pace bowling.
Suresh Raina: Raina before the Test series said that he will like to be a permanent member of the Indian side, but he did not back his words by his performance. Raina scored 58 runs from three innings and missed a golden opportunity. It is a fact that Raina struggles in foreign conditions. In England, Raina played all four Test matches and could only score 105 runs at a pathetic average of 13. As a result of that he was dropped from the tour of Australia. Raina, who is a genuine match winner in shorter formats, really needs to start coming up with good performances if he wants to remain in the Test team.
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By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network