Cricket: A few positives for NZ from dismal India series

By Kris Shannon of APNZ in Bangalore

India's batsman Virat Kohli, second left, celebrates their win over New Zealand. Photo / AP
India's batsman Virat Kohli, second left, celebrates their win over New Zealand. Photo / AP

New Zealand found a few positives to take from their five-wicket loss to India in Bangalore and the series as a whole.

Their triumvirate of young seamers failed to bowl New Zealand to a victory on the fourth day of the second test, but their emergence is the best thing to come from this tour.

Bangalore was the first time Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult were given full responsibility as the side's only seamers.

They appeared to relish the task, especially Southee in his seven-wicket haul in the hosts' first innings, and Boult, who was hitting previously unseen speeds of 145km/h.

Excluding Southee's figures - the sixth-best by a Kiwi bowler in tests - the tourists' best bowler in the series was Jeetan Patel. He took four wickets in India's only innings in Hyderabad, in what was his comeback test after appearing to be consigned to the international wilderness.

A successful spell in English county cricket paid dividends and the subcontinent's spinning pitches made him a handful. Patel was included only because of Dan Vettori's injury-related absence and, given Vettori has been the subject of criticism for a reduction in his wicket-taking, it will be interesting to see what happens next time both are available for selection.

The majority of positives came with the ball, but New Zealand's first-innings batting effort in Bangalore rates a mention. The batsmen somehow found the confidence to take an aggressive approach to the hosts' attack, led by captain Ross Taylor's run-a-ball century.

Batting first, and without the pressure of an opponent's big total already on the scoreboard, the natural stroke-makers flourished.

Taylor rated their performance in the series as a six out of 10, which seemed rather generous for a side who were twice bundled out under 200 and could manage only 248 in the final innings of the series when a score of significance might have guaranteed the match.

Brendon McCullum's opening position didn't pay off, with his 42 in the second innings in Hyderabad his only score of note. His partnership with Martin Guptill reaped an average a tick over 20 from four innings, meaning the middle order was never able to arrive at the crease and build on a stable platform laid by the openers.

The middle order's problem was a familiar one - getting themselves in then getting themselves out. The chief culprits were No3 Kane Williamson and No5 Daniel Flynn, who in eight combined innings were never dismissed in single figures but made only one half-century (Williamson's 52). James Franklin didn't show enough with the bat or ball to justify his selection over a specialist batsman, while Kruger van Wyk's 71 in the first innings in Bangalore should be enough to save his spot in the side with BJ Watling waiting in the wings.

New Zealand travel to Sri Lanka in November and if they fail to claim a victory in that test series, their winless streak (standing at seven) could stretch for almost another year. After Sri Lanka, they face a trip to world No1 South Africa then a home and away series with England.

- APNZ

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