Three things: What to take out of Black Caps' defeat

By David Leggat

Three things we learnt about New Zealand during the first test loss to India in Kanpur.

1: Luke Ronchi's test credentials

Ronchi had played just one test before Kanpur. He stood in with the gloves for BJ Watling at Leeds last year, scoring 88 and 31, and was promptly gone again, back to limited-overs duties.

Don't expect him to be so rapidly dispensed with second time around.

Ronchi's double of 38 and 80, scored at a good rate in demanding conditions, spoke volumes for his character and skill.

His name had been mentioned before the test as a possible replacement for the out-of-sorts Martin Guptill at the top of the order, on the back of his century against Mumbai in the leadup tour match.

Few saw him coming in at No 5 for Henry Nicholls but Ronchi's free-scoring approach, good footwork and clear decision-making at the crease was highly impressive.

His four test scores in vastly contrasting conditions are 88, 31, 38 and 80. He's had to bide his time but Ronchi has grabbed his chance.

2: Mitchell Santner's allround development

A double of 32 and 71, and five for 173 off 55 overs in his first test in India, is difficult conditions is not to be sneezed at.

One criticism of the left handers' early test work has been a shortage of runs. Santner answered that in Kanpur when given a chance at No 6, ahead of the exhauste wicketkeeper BJ Watling.

He was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers and his spell at India's captain Virat Kohli, a batsmen who possesses a dominant mindset, in the hosts' second innings was a standout one-of-one clash in the match, which Santner won, even if Mark Craig did get the wicket.
He balanced tight defence with assertive strokes when the occasion was right. Santner's work off the back foot was especially notable. He made full use of both the crease and his long reach.

It might be a stretch but this test could come in time to be seen as a watershed experience for the 24-year-old from Hamilton.

3: Respect earned


Indian captain Kohli paid New Zealand an impressive compliment when he praised their guts and commitment after the test. He knew New Zealand dominated certain periods of the game and anticipates this series will get tighter at Kolkata and Indore. Nice of him, and a reasonable point.
There was no question the superior team won, and won well. But New Zealand had pockets of the match in which they were the better side. The problem was they could not sustain it.

At 159 for one, in reply to India's first innings 318, New Zealand, with Tom Latham and Kane Williamson set, were in solid shape. Even at 255 for five, New Zealand were looking at an even stevens situation at halfway.

They then lost five for seven and once India got to 185 for one in their second innings it was game over.

New Zealand did a good job of dismissing India for 318 in the best batting conditions of the match, sticking to their plans even as Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara were sailing along in their quality second wicket partnership. But it could have been 280.

Trent Boult showed his devastating swing touch hasn't deserted him late on the first day, while Ronchi and Santner's work in their 102-run stand could only be admired.

In between times, things went wrong. Ross Taylor had a poor game, his second innings run out inexcusable at any level. Martin Guptill remains in a top order fug and for all their industry, the New Zealand spinners, particularly Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig, were unable to string together dots, which build pressure.

But they have India's respect. Not all teams win that, and they are sweating bullets in the nets and the middle. Now they need to take a penetrative look at building on that in Kolkata later this week.

Match centre with scorecard, wagon wheel and Manhattan/Worm

- NZ Herald

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