Cricket: Top order mindset crucial in Black Caps chase

By Andrew Alderson in Kolkata

New Zealand's planning of their fourth innings chase presents an intriguing prospect with two days remaining in the second test.

India resume at 227 for eight on the fourth day, giving them a lead of 339 runs.

The Black Caps will undoubtedly opt for a proactive pursuit of any total, as is standard procedure, but hopefully it comes with a caveat that leaving balls outside off stump to tire the bowler is still acceptable practice.

Test cricket is still surely the format of the game which celebrates attrition as much as aggression?

Some might consider it a barbaric practice, akin to bull and matador, witnessing bowlers worn down by batsmen in the furnace of Eden Gardens. However, given the swift cadence of both tests, it could be a welcome plot twist.


A true reading on the wicket is hard to gauge outside the fact there is variable bounce, but New Zealand might use "Jeets" as a watchword.

Against the odds, Jeetan Patel placated the surface as well as anyone, and topped New Zealand's first innings scorecard with 47.

Similarly B-J Watling negotiated pace with due diligence and smothered spin like he was playing one-hand, one-bounce as he nursed the tail with 25.

Both batsmen left the ball with positive intent, as if they had a GPSs on their off stumps.

The key question is can the New Zealand top order apply a similar mindset this innings?

Indian No.6 Rohit Sharma top scored in the hosts' second innings with 82. He featured in the crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 103 with Wriddhiman Saha that saw India reassert their dominance.

He agreed attacking was important... to a degree.

"We wanted to play shots, once we got in, to put pressure back on the New Zealanders. It was just a matter of getting our eye in over the first few balls so we could accelerate.

"It was never easy. You can't relax because there's something in the surface throughout the day. But once the ball got softer it wasn't much help to the bowlers. The lush green outfield means you also won't see the reverse swing we saw at Kanpur.

"We've identified a couple of guys in our team who have to keep their pants dry at all times to protect the ball."

Sharma suggested batsmen run a risk if they go too far forward or back.

"Shikhar [Dhawan] had a ball that kicked off a length [which stung his hand] so you can't go on the front foot completely. You have to be balanced and play as late as possible."

Trent Boult finished the day with two wickets for 28 from 14 overs, trapping Dhawan and Virat Kohli lbw.

He stressed how punishing the humid conditions can be for bowlers, if batsmen stay patient. This is the first time in 82 years of tests at the ground that a match has started in September, with the Indian summer ebbing.

"Those are some of the toughest conditions I've played in," Boult said. "I'm not sure what it looks like on telly but it's taxing, and the dryness of the wicket makes it tougher.

"The last session is the easiest to deal with the heat, but you're sapped by that time."

- NZ Herald

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