India put their most recent losing run behind them in fairly emphatic style inside four days against the Kiwis. I didn’t get to see all of the Test due to the time zone, but there were a few aspects that stood out:
– New Zealand were shoddy. This is something I’ve seen from them quite a few times, of course, and I think it is probably the biggest thing keeping them from becoming an average side. They have very little application with the bat and although their bowling was good their fielding was not. They have the talent, I think, to get better results than they do. But they just don’t seem to put in the work to get there.
– Ravichandran Ashwin is a decent bowler. It’s not wise to read too much into a result on an Indian wicket against a team seemingly determined to get a day off and his failures in Australia cannot be forgot. But one can only beat the opposition that is presented and Ashwin got very good turn and bounce. He still has a lot to prove, but it is a red flag for England in three months.
– Speaking of England, they may be slightly encouraged by the amount of swing and seam the New Zealand bowlers got. Boult and Bracewell in particular were getting a lot of movement in the air on the first morning and given the similarity of England’s attack it will be very interesting to see if the conditions in November are still conductive to swing.
– Virender Sehwag is an idiot. We knew that already, of course, but it goes to a new level when one does not even manage to bully on a flat track. He made a decent 47 and off of only 41 balls, but offered two clear chances and a few edges through the slips in that time. He didn’t take the hint though and got out trying to cut a ball that was too close to his body. He then went off rehearsing the shot, seemingly under the impression that it was the execution which had let him down as opposed to the shot selection. There is almost no other way to describe it apart from ‘stupid’.
– The DRS must be made universal. For all the arguments over the influence the DRS has had over umpires and whether it is correctly applied to close decisions, there is little doubt that it has achieved it’s stated goal of getting rid of the howler. At least when it is used. It was not used in this Test, of course, because the BCCI don’t like it. And so, after a year of discussing marginal cases and whether it was a good thing with front foot lbws we got to see the return of the howler. New Zealand were hit the worst by it, with two absolutely terrible decisions going against them. Guptill and McCullum both were given out lbw, the first to a ball that was comfortably spinning away and going over the stumps and the second to a massive inside edge. There is little chance that the result was affected, but it is still quite troubling and not the least because of what it says about the elite panel of Umpires. They do, of course, get more decisions right than they do wrong as well as getting more decisions right than most people would. But that is not really good enough at Test level and especially without some sort of backup in place. Right now, the only two really trustworthy umpires are Aleem Dar and Simon Taufel and unfortunately even they make errors and in any case they cannot be at every Test. Which means that some sort of review system is an absolute necessity.
The final Test is on Friday in Bangalore and it is hard to see any other result than another Indian victory. Even with quite a bit of rain, New Zealand did not come close to saving this Test and collapsed from 92-1 at lunch on day four to 164 all out before stumps. They have a huge amount of work to do and have the disadvantage of only playing a two Test series so they just don’t have the time. Though even if there were four Tests, I expect they would struggle.