Cricket: Black Caps trounced by India

By Andrew Alderson at Holkar Stadium

New Zealand's woes against subcontinental spin were again exposed on the fourth day of the third test as India rolled to a 321-run win and a 3-0 sweep of the series.

No one is suggesting survival on a wicket which resembled the surface of the Apollo XI moon landing is easy, but the Black Caps batsmen are paid to occupy the crease for a living.

Few looked capable of doing so, as the middle order again failed to defend for a sustained period. New Zealand were dismissed for 153 in 44.5 overs, their lowest total or time spent batting in the series.

Indian fieldsmen crowded the bat like frenzied fishermen on a wharf as New Zealand's school of batsmen took the bait.

Kane Williamson was trapped lbw for 27 trying to work a ball off his pads; Ross Taylor swung across the line and missed for 32 from 25 balls; Luke Ronchi played back but the ball sneaked under his bat for 15; and Jimmy Neesham chipped into Jadeja's spin trap at mid-wicket for a duck.

Such difficulties have riddled the series. Where the bowling and fielding has been exemplary at times, the batting has let them down.

The reinstigation of 'A' tours to the subcontinent can't come quick enough.

Attack was deemed the best form of defence for the most part, a plan which appeared borne of psychological necessity because the prospect of enduring against such pressure was so daunting.

Of the batsmen, Martin Guptill applied himself best, going to 29 off 60 balls before Jadeja trapped him lbw.

Trent Boult's bowling footmarks, alongside the illegal pitch scratchings which saw Ravindra Jadeja fined, proved the perfect accomplice to Ravi Ashwin's appetite for destruction.

He took seven wickets for 59 in the second innings to give him figures of 13-140 for the match.

Significantly, Ashwin dismissed Williamson four times from four innings in the series.

The result, outside four innings defeats, was the heaviest India had inflicted by runs on New Zealand in 21 losses through the years.

The Black Caps lost four wickets - the second to the fifth - for 14 runs in the space of 32 balls in the middle session on the third day, ending any hopes of first innings parity.

In the second innings those same wickets fell for 61 runs in the space of 76 balls; less dramatic but just as effective in the circumstances.

The fall of New Zealand wickets two through to five has morphed from a problem into a stigma.

At Kanpur, the middle order lost 4-60 and 4-155; at Kolkata it was 4-86 and 4-50.

India's efforts in the first two tests - 4-55 and 4-92, 4-165 and 4-67 - were only slightly better but 4-444 in Indore, courtesy of Kohli and Rahane differentiated the sides.

Taylor's form slump is compounding the batting woes. The No.4 made 89 runs at an average of 14.83 this series. Include the South African tour and it extends to 92 runs at 11.50. Those figures are at complete odds with his 364 unbeaten runs against Zimbabwe and point to an issue to be addressed for the home summer.

New Zealand faced the prospect of batting four and a half sessions as India tightened their grip.

The hosts declared at 216-3, setting the visitors a target of 475 'to win'.

India's batsmen flourished as New Zealand's bowlers and fielders toiled for minimal reward through 43 overs of the day.

They forced the Black Caps to exert themselves in balmy heat with the sole consolation being relatively less humidity.

Cheteshwar Pujara led India's batting with 101 not out, his eighth test century. He milked runs everywhere and looked comfortable against all bowlers. Pujara received useful support with second, third and fourth wicket partnerships of 76, 48 and 58 respectively.

There was no lack of New Zealand commitment in the field as India constructed their target. The difference between the two sides over the series has more about having the skill levels and finesse to prosper in the conditions. The Indians' muscle memory copes better.

Guptill was also the outstanding fielder. His athleticism reiterated that his value to the team comes from more than just runs as an opening batsman.

He secured the run out of Murali Vijay for 19. Mitchell Santner brought the opener forward and Guptill pounced on a thick edge at short cover. He delivered a backhand throw to B-J Watling. Vijay impersonated someone struggling through the final stages of a beep test. He fell millimetres short of getting his bat behind the line.

Gautam Gambhir returned after retiring hurt from a shoulder injury and made 50 from 56 balls before drilling a cover drive to Guptill from Jeetan Patel. Gambhir could have placed the ball anywhere, but Guptill's hands proved a magnet.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 28 May 2017 02:56:35 Processing Time: 669ms