“Setting target of 284 seemed like series was on the line” - Salman Butt baffled with hosts’ tactics in 1st India vs New Zealand Test

Team India celebrate a wicket against New Zealand. Pic: BCCI
Team India celebrate a wicket against New Zealand. Pic: BCCI
Renin Wilben Albert

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt reckons India were too negative with their approach in the Kanpur Test against New Zealand, which ended in a draw. According to Butt, India should have declared at least an hour earlier on Day 4.

Chasing 284 for victory, New Zealand lost nine wickets but the last-wicket pair of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel batted for 8.4 overs, enabling the Kiwis to escape with a draw in fading light.

Reviewing the first Test, Butt opined that India batted on Day 4 as if they were the team looking to save the match. Speaking on his YouTube channel, he said:

“India should have declared at least one hour earlier on Day 4 and should have bowled at least 12-13 overs. 235-240 would have been a good target but they went too far. Setting a target of 284 seemed like the series was on the line and they wanted to save it.”
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Butt also claimed that India overestimated New Zealand’s batting skills in sub-continent conditions, which led to the delay in their declaration. He added:

“This approach was not suitable from India’s point of view because they had three specialist spinners. Once the ball would have become old, runs were not going to be scored on this pitch. Also, New Zealand doesn't have the kind of players to score on such surfaces nor are they aggressive like England. Without risk, this chase wasn't possible, all the more reason for India to have declared early. But credit to New Zealand, they were outstanding with their tactics.”

India did not show any intent towards the end of the fourth day’s play in Kanpur and ended up bowling only four overs at New Zealand’s batters.

“They did not flight even a single delivery” - Salman Butt question Indian spinners’ tactics

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Despite having nearly nine overs to claim the last New Zealand wicket, India’s spinners could not trouble Ravindra or Ajaz.

According to Butt, the slow bowlers missed a trick by not inviting the Kiwi tailenders to play some shots. He elaborated:

“The last New Zealand pair played 50-plus balls. Two left-handers were out in the middle, still Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel bowled all deliveries within the stumps to them. They should have bowled outside the line of the stumps even if it meant conceding a few boundaries. If the ball had spun from there, panic could have set in.”

Butt further added:

“They did not flight even a single delivery against two tailenders. Indian bowlers missed this trick. They should have tried bowling outside the off stump in the rough. Rahane, although a brilliant captain, was short of a few ideas.”

The second Test of the two-match India-New Zealand series will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai from December 3.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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