Cricket: Plenty to learn for Black Caps spinners from the first test at Kanpur

By David Leggat

Mark Craig is bowled out by India's Mohammed Shami on the fifth day of their first cricket test match against India in Kanpur. Photo / AP
Mark Craig is bowled out by India's Mohammed Shami on the fifth day of their first cricket test match against India in Kanpur. Photo / AP

You'd hope New Zealand's spinners spent as much time as they could watching India's clever spin pair at work during the first test at Kanpur.

For all three New Zealanders, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig, it was their first test in India. For offspinner Craig it might be his last, invalided home with a side injury.

In terms of experience they can't hope to compete with offspinner Ravi Ashwin and left armer Ravi Jadeja, who shared 16 New Zealand wickets between them.

Jadeja won man of the match, which seemed peculiar considering the tall allrounder Ashwin's 10 for 225 in the match.

However there are plenty of lessons to absorb.

New Zealand are in the land of spin and Ashwin, in particular, delivered a master class in the 197-run victory to take the initiative in the three-test series.

He is in a rich vein of form, and at Kanpur became the second quickest bowler in all test cricket to reach 200 wickets - 37 games, one more than celebrated Australian legspinner Clarrie Grimmett of the 1920s and 30s.

In his last 12 tests since August last year, Ashwin has taken 79 wickets at 17.01 apiece; in three matches against New Zealand he's bagged 28 at 16.4.

Jadeja has taken 32 in his last six tests and is averaging 23.29 for his 77 wickets, a marginally better average than Ashwin.

New Zealand are novices alongside the experiences the Indian pair have accumulated and the more so in their back yard.

Ashwin's mastery of three deliveries -- his offspinner, carom ball which carries straight on and a ball which reaches the batsman as a legspinner from near identical actions - is supreme.

Hed whistled his way through the last three New Zealand wickets today to wrap up the test. Give him some help from the pitch and he's a true handful.

He twice dismissed New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson in the test, and rated getting Williamson in the first innings as ''not a bad 200th scalp".

His dismissal of Williamson, bowled by a ball which jagged back sharply from outside offstump to beat a defensive stroke was ''a very, very good ball", he opined.

''The ball was spinning sharply and there are a couple of world class spinners in the Indian lineup," Williamson said highlighting the challenges for New Zealand's batsmen.

New Zealand had spent time in the nets before the test using large bags to mimic close catchers around the bat in the batsmen's line of sight.

They managed four half centuries in the test - Tom Latham and Williamson in the first innings, Luke Ronchi and Santner in the second -- and at times handled the turning ball adroitly.

But they'll need to further up their game when Kolkata rolls around.

Ashwin and Jadeja will be waiting for them.

India

Ravi Ashwin: 37 tests, 203 wickets at 25.06, 19 x 5 innings, 5 x 10 match
Ravi Jadeja: 18 tests, 77 at 23.29, 5 x 5 innings

New Zealand

Mitch Santner: 8 tests, 20 wickets, 30.55
Ish Sodhi: 14 tests, 38 wickets at 46.68
Mark Craig: 15 tests, 50 wickets at 46.52, 1 x 10 match

- NZ Herald

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