Hamilton: It’s clear that India’s tour of New Zealand is not a romp in the park as the 5-0 clean sweep in the T20 series may have suggested. The 0-3 drubbing in the ODIs that followed was not just sweet revenge for the home team, but may have also tilted the psychological advantage away from India for the impending Test series.
Of course, limited-overs cricket is vastly different from that played over the five-day format, demanding different skillsets and mindset from players. But momentum plays a huge part in any sport, and India appear to have lost this. Or, to be fairer, New Zealand have regrouped swiftly and come back into the reckoning strongly.
Two days into the warm-up match against New Zealand XI showed that the task ahead in the Test series could be tough for India. On a typical Kiwi pitch, which offered pronounced seam movement and bounce for the fast bowlers, India’s batting didn’t look as formidable as its is reputed to be.
In the first innings, India scored 263. Even allowing for the fact that Virat Kohli was not in the playing XI, this was a modest score. That India managed to secure a lead of 28 runs (as I write this) redounds to the credit of the fast bowlers, all having some reward to show for their toil.
Nevertheless, over these two days highlighted the hardships that Indian could be facing in the two-back-to-back Tests that begin within a week. The warm-up match did not feature New Zealand’s major players — Williamson, Taylor, Latham, Watling, Southee and particularly Boult and Wagner — which puts things in perspective.
Kohli’s prime concern going into this match was to firm up the best combination for the Tests.
With Rohit Sharma injured, an opening partner for Mayank Agarwal had to be found. Both youngster Prithvi Shaw and Shubhman Gill are in the squad, and it appeared to be a toss-up between them, except that things didn’t pan out so easily.