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So it turned out to be yet another boring draw after all. There was a brief hint of a chance of India wresting the game when New Zealand were 170/6 and still an entire session to play for. Unfortunately, a combination of bizarre captaincy, placid pitch and good batting resulted in a draw.
First, the captaincy. India had a session (turns out it was a minimum of 27 overs) to bowl New Zealand out and win the game, since New Zealand never seemed to be interested in the target. Since it was a minimum 27 overs to be bowled in 2 hours, India could have chosen to bowl even say 32. How does a bowling side do that? By making the seamers bowl 4-5 overs at each end? Of course not. You get the spinners on from the first over or at least the third. Ganguly erred bigtime in this regard. Perhaps his groin injury was affecting his thinking process? Why was he on the field then? Surely with Yuvraj being 12th man, the fielding would have at least improved by leaps and bounds. We also batted quite slowly on day 1. In an era when the benchmark set by Australia is to score at least 300 runs in a day (they frequently make 350!), scoring 250/3 is quite unpardonable. Yes, the pitch was on the slower side. But arent the Indian batsmen supposed to be comfortable playing on these pitches? After all these were the types on which they learnt all their cricket! On the 2nd day, we ended up scoring at ~ 3.5 per over. If only we'd scored at 3/over on day 1 and a little faster on day 2 (say 3.7/ov), we could have made those 500 runs in 150 overs. Assuming the rest of the Test went identically, that means an extra 10 overs to bowl NZ out on day 5. Its baffling to see a lineup of Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly score at just over 3/over in the 1st innings on a flat wicket. Hayden scored 380 at 5.2/over, all by himself!
Then the pitch. For all the talk of how the wickets in India are changing for the better, I really do differ. The wickets have actually become worse. In an attempt to break the stereotype of Indian wickets being absolute dustbowls, we're ending up placating visiting teams. This pitch saw an avg of 49 runs/wicket and 2.9 runs/over. While the runs/over seems ok, the runs/wicket seems quite high. In fact even the average runrate is highly affected by India's hurried performance while batting second. Stephen Fleming is right now absolutely delighted that NZ got away with a draw. According to him, the draw is a victory. When India went to New Zealand 10 months ago, the pitches were horrible. There may have been weather related reasons, but the fact is that the pitches were underprepared. Why did the GCA authorities and the pitches committee roll out the "red" carpet to the visitors? I wonder what sort of pitch is in store at Mohali. The last time we played New Zealand there, we were rolled over by Nash for 83 in the first innings. The batsmen then woke up and NZ managed to get away with a draw.
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