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5 key takeaways from India’s 1-0 win over New Zealand

Let us look at the key highlights or takeaways from India’s drubbing of the Kiwis in the series

Dev Tyagi Author

Updated - 6 December 2021 7:19 pm

Team India

Absorbing and evenly contested are terms you use to describe a series that’s closely fought until the very end. But where it stands at present, the recent series featuring New Zealand and India is anything but that. In what has been an utterly dominant performance from India hosting Kane Williamson’s team, the plaudits and praises have flown only one way; toward the hosts with very little belonging to a visiting team that either seems to have been caught napping or has simply not been that good enough.

So, what are the key highlights or takeaways from India’s drubbing of the Kiwis in the series?

1. New Zealand batting failed to stick together with minor breakthroughs

New Zealand Team

30! That’s exactly what the top five in New Zealand’s batting order managed in their first innings. But did that improve in the second innings? 136 are what the top five collectively managed in the fourth inning at Mumbai, these being- Latham, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, and Nicholls.

That still wasn’t going to be enough.

Not only because the top half of any side can’t get away with such an ordinary contribution regardless of one’s status in the sport or batting order capability. But also because when you are confronting an Ashwin and Siraj on a wicket assisting bowlers, you ought to put up a better foot forward.

The valiance at Green Park, something that came in good stead for the Kiwis was nowhere to be found at Mumbai and it didn’t help the team to see Latham, who had so beautifully made 147 in the previous game, missing out on this Test.

To make matters worse, the absence of Williamson, still very much the nucleus of Kiwi batting, hurt the side’s chances. Is it time for others to step up and play the lead?

2. Pujara and Rahane; ever on the edge

Rahane and Pujara

 A firm decision and rather quickly so has to be taken on the two distinguished Test batters of a side that has often relied on them in the past to both win and draw games.

But the fact is, Pujara and Rahane’s careers are going nowhere where they should have displayed a very uncharacteristic sluggishness you’d only expect on a sub-continental turf, not on promising resumes that boast of nearly 12,000 Test runs, featuring 30 centuries.

Will the two get another series in a side where talented youngsters are popping in as frequently as viewers for a box office mega-hit matinee show- we don’t know yet.

Yet, what must be known to all in the team and made clear to both batters who find themselves under extraordinary pressure is that they cannot continue to occupy a seat on which another determined name can place itself.

For such is the travesty of the sport that nicety and politeness alone cannot take you far. Numbers do. Performances do.

What can Pujara and Rahane bring again, if considered for another full-fledged series form the narrative of the tale around the Indian cricket side in Tests?

3. Ajaz Patel, the only Kiwi bowler who’s impressed thus far

Ajaz Patel

On the very wicket where the likes of Siraj and Ashwin made wonders, Ajaz Patel caught the attention of the cricketing world by storm; and that too, courtesy a ten-for, something that doesn’t happen every week.

Though much has been made of how the spell didn’t win the Kiwis the game and a lot written about already in this talkative age of social media already. But, one ought to remember it’s an age where fillers of blank spaces on Facebook walls consider themselves as cricket experts when they are not even suited to play book cricket!

Having said so, should Patel have done the job his batsmen were supposed to do in order to have something creditable directed at his outstanding effort or was his own performance mightily impressive?

It’s a call none can take and shouldn’t for on his part, the slow left-arm orthodox spinner made it count performing for a country in a Test where it had nothing, absolutely nothing going for it.

A 5 for in any domestic game anywhere on the face of the earth must be – and usually is- applauded. This was still a ten for in a first-class game of cricket and that too, in the sport’s top flight. Now the question is, how do New Zealand further channelize their much-underrated spinner who had been persisting in the sport much like many of their understated gems, such as Nicholls.

4. Mayank Agarwal rediscovering his lost touch

Mayank Agarwal

If there was one Indian batsman who wanted to rediscover his peak batting form, one evident through that blazing 243 against Bangladesh (2019), then it was Mayank Agarwal. And he did it all right with a fighting 150 on the very wicket where no Indian batsman could stand his weight against the very surprising and unbelievably good, Ajaz Patel.

For someone who wasn’t dropped especially amid any acerbic criticism as such despite having a batting average of 16 of 2020, Mayank Agarwal has made his credentials even stronger to be considered for a permanent role in the side.

With a firm technique, if not always watertight against the moving ball, it’s the calmness and measured approach to batting that Agarwal brings that makes him important and where the lacklustre form of other batsmen stand- then even precious.

5. India’s bowling top notch at home and can suffocate any side

Jayant Yadav wicket celebration

India not winning the Green Park Test was, in itself, a massive surprise. For in the fourth inning, before Rachin Ravindra had dug a well of concentration in which he dragged all bowlers, the duo of Ashwin, Patel and Jadeja were all over the New Zealand batters.

Taking 9 wickets in the first inning, followed by 8 in the final innings, there was no way the bowling side was letting any Kiwi batter settle down. Not much changed in the final Test, recently completed on December 6 in that Siraj, who had missed out at Kanpur joined the party with a dismissive 3-for. This was followed by a match-turning four-fer by Jayant Yadav- still scarcely used in Indian cricket- and the big daddy of off-spin, R. Ashwin.

Things hadn’t changed a bit when England came calling earlier in 2021 with the final Test at Ahmedabad stadium seeing seventeen of England’s twenty wickets falling to spinners. Any lesson the next visiting side would want to learn from this would be to take the spin cauldron of India, a particularly intriguing one- Ashwin, Jadeja, Patel- very seriously.

The challenge here is that the trio of matchwinning spinners- nearly 700 wickets between them is too hot to handle and too cunning to deceive. What’s worse for batsmen is that when the spinners don’t unleash their tricks then the seamers- Bumrah and Siraj chip in.


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