New Zealand vs India 2020: Christchurch meltdown leaves India with second World Test Championship defeat
- New Zealand climbed to number three in the World Test Championship rankings after their comprehensive series whitewash against India.
There was no miracle on the third day at the Hagley Oval. Although the hope for an elusive triumph glimmered across the second day when India's attack made a fist of things, bundling out New Zealand for 235 with gusto, it was snuffed out quickly thereafter with the batsmen failing to wrap their heads around the alien conditions. The result, India's second defeat in the World Test Championship, and a massive loss of 120 crucial points.
The tour that commenced with India annihilating New Zealand concluded with the predicament of the visitors suffering consecutive series maulings. It isn't difficult to comprehend the primary reasons behind India's shocking performances. India got past the 200-run mark just once in four innings.
That only Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara managed a tally of over 100 runs demonstrates India's misery. Virat Kohli's lean patch kept stretching and the skipper concluded the red ball assignments with an exiguous 32 runs over four innings. Ajinkya Rahane didn't show up either, scoring merely 91 runs across the two games. From the batting perspective, the few discernible signs of progress could be Prithvi Shaw's exuberance upfront and Hanuma Vihari's counter-attacking strokeplay, but the technical loopholes, especially against the short-ball ploy, outweigh the positives.
Also see – World Test Championship points table
Virat Kohli admitted during the post-match press conference,
"I think their bowling and consistency was excellent and that forced our batsmen to make these mistakes which we don't. As a batting unit, we generally put up a fight, put up scores on the board. It was just not enough done by the batsmen to give the bowlers a chance to try and attack."
Notwithstanding the home advantage argument, it is reprehensible for Kohli's men that they have been comprehensively outplayed by the side which doesn't boast of an outstanding track record in the longest format. Their shambolic series whitewash against Australia earlier this year provides a glowing testimonial of that. However, credit has to be given where its due. New Zealand bowled with vigor, perseverance, and skill, and had India's batsmen on toast largely during the course of the encounter.
India didn't squander ascendancy on the second or third day though. It was the afternoon session of the opening day where India conceded momentum. For starters, posting 242 on a creamy green seamer was actually a pretty decent effort from India, but had they not overplayed intent and kicked on to acquire even better numbers, the game could've panned out slightly differently.
Of course, winning the toss handed New Zealand an early advantage, but considering how India went about their business after being inserted, 300-350 would have been an ideal score to put the hosts under the pump. Vihari and Pujara were the main culprits, who threw away their wickets in bizzare fashion and left the job unaccomplished. Consequently, India underachieved. The extra hundred runs India could've added there ultimately proved the decisive factor in the match's context.
Although youngsters like Rishabh Pant, Shaw, and Agarwal might have the luxury of hiding behind the shell of inexperience, the crux of the matter is that New Zealand's pace merchants have brutally exposed their technical discrepancies.
While Shaw and Agarwal have just done enough to hold their positions, the merciless axe dangles over the young wicket-keeper batsman. Pant looked horribly out of sorts against high-quality swing bowling- the tentative feet movement portraying his discomfort and uncertainty, and hard hands proving his vulnerability. The flamboyant southpaw ought to eradicate the glitches and reinstate his worth before the selectors run out of patience.
Nevertheless, as Kohli suggested,
"It's disappointing but we need to go back to the drawing board and correct those things.''
India will learn from the harsh reality checks and move forward. The panic button should not be pressed prematurely. Yes, they've been tormented, but expect India to dust themselves off and get back to winning ways shortly. After all, champions are defined by how well they rise after falling down.Published 02 Mar 2020, 13:00 IST