NZ v IND: Reasons why India lost the Wellington Test
Had the Indian batsmen been more proactive at the Basin Reserve or had the rub of the green gone their way on crucial moments, the result could have been different.
The rub of the green not going their way
When you win the toss, you bat first. When you win the toss on a green top, you think a bit and then you choose to bat first. However, in New Zealand, this is not the case, with it being one of the few venues left in Test cricket where bowling first comes at a premium.
Since 2016, the team batting second in Wellington has won 12 games while the one batting first winning just thrice. So, from the point Indian skipper Virat Kohli lost the toss and India was put into bat, the odds were always heavily stacked against the visiting side.
With a thick covering of grass on the surface on day one of the test match and the ball hooping around corners, the Indian batsmen found it tough to negotiate the Kiwi bowlers. That is not to say that their implosion for less than 200 was justified but the conditions certainly had a role to play in their downfall.
The weather also favoured the home side. While it was windy and overcast on day one with India having to bat, when you Zealand came out to bat on the morning of day two, the wind had almost disappeared and the sun was out.
With the pitch flattening out relatively, the Indian bowlers then did not get the conducive conditions which were on offer for their counterparts.
Lack of bowling plans
That said, the New Zealand victory in Wellington was as much due to their bowling plans as due to the conditions. Without doubt, the trio of Kyle Jamieson, Trent Boult and Tim Southee outbowled Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma.
This also had something to do with the familiarity with the conditions. While Indian bowlers bowled the hard length, the Kiwi pacers mixed their lengths brilliantly with a bouncer following every couple of good length deliveries. The Kiwis also had set plans for particular batsmen while the Indians stuck to the top of the off stump line and length which certainly did not fetch them as good returns as it has been giving in the Indian conditions.
It did not help that India were without someone like a Bhuvneshwar Kumar who is more of a swing bowler as opposed to the reliability of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami on seam bowling.
In-between approach of the batsmen
As a batting unit, India were neither here nor there. While the conditions in the first innings demanded them to be a bit circumspect and give due respect to the bowlers, they could have certainly been a bit more positive in their approach. By just defending, they allowed the New Zealand bowlers to hone in on consistent line and lengths and it was only a matter of time in those conditions that a ball would have a batter's name on it. This is exactly what happened.
In the second innings as well when the conditions became a lot better for batting, the Indian batsmen were not as assertive. The team was trialing by 183 after the first innings and their only way out was via the aggressive route. While there is no denying the fact that the New Zealand bowling did not offer them anything loose, the Indian batsmen could certainly have been a lot more proactive.
The wagging tail
The total added by the last 5 wickets in both the Indian innings was less than that added by the last 3 New Zealand wickets in the 1st innings alone. Shortly after the outset of day three, India trailed by 60 runs and New Zealand were seven down. Had Kohli's boys managed to keep the lead down to 100, things could have panned out differently.
But Kyle Jamieson joined hands with Colin de Grandhomme for a 71-run 8th wicket stand which took the game away from India. Trent Boult further added to India's troubles with a quick-fire 30-odd as the hosts stretched their lead to 183, courtesy of 132 runs in the first session. There was no coming back for the visitors from thereon.
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