India need better hospitality, NZ seek home improvement
India have not won an away Test since June 2011 when they beat West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica. Their current sequence of 12 consecutive away Tests without a win is their worst since 1993-2001, when they went 22 away Tests without a win. The bigger concern for India, however, is that they have lost nine of these 12 Tests, putting them at the bottom of the win-loss ratio table in overseas Tests, along with Zimbabwe.
Their last tour to New Zealand was the first time in 40 years they won a Test series there, and their only Test win in that series, in Hamilton, was their first Test win in New Zealand in 30 years. Before that, India won a Test in New Zealand in 1975-76, in Auckland. Overall in the last 30 years, India's win-loss record in New Zealand is their second-worst, after their record in Australia.
India's records at the two venues for the Test series present contrasting pictures. India play their first Test at Eden Park, where they are yet to lose a Test from four matches and have had two of their five wins in New Zealand. At the Basin Reserve, their record is poor: they have lost four of the six Tests that they have played at this venue, and have won only one. India won way back in 1967-68 in the third Test of their first away series against New Zealand. The hosts' win-loss ratio of 4 against India at the Basin Reserve is their best among teams that have played more than two Tests at this venue.
New Zealand have hosted the highest percentage of draws in Tests in recent times. In 12 Tests that have been played here since 2011, seven have ended in draws. This is the most draws played out in any country during this period. New Zealand have won only three of these 12 Tests, two in the recent series against West Indies and one against Zimbabwe in January 2011. Over the same period, Bangladesh are the only team to have done worse in terms of winning Tests at home. However, five of the seven draws have come against the top Test teams: three against South Africa - the strongest touring side in the recent years - and three against England.
|Basin Reserve, Wellington||6||4||1||1||4.0|
|Eden Park, Auckland||4||0||2||2||0.0|
New Zealand's batsmen have played a significant part in their holding better ranked teams to draws in Tests at home in the last couple of years. Their top-order batsmen (Nos 1 to No. 7) average 43.44 in Tests at home since January 2012, with 10 hundreds in as many Tests. Only South Africa's top order has done better in New Zealand, averaging 48.73 from three Tests. Ross Taylor has been one of the leading batsmen in Tests in the last year or so. He has scored 866 runs at 72.16 including three hundreds and four half-centuries in 17 innings since January 2013. In home Tests against India, Taylor has hit 327 runs at 64.40 with two centuries. One of those hundreds was in the second innings of India's last Test in Wellington, which denied India their second Test win of the tour. Jesse Ryder, who has been selected as back-up for Taylor for the series, has done well too, scoring 327 runs at 65.40 against India in Tests at home, including a career-best 201 in Napier in 2008-09.
Taylor has played only one Test in Auckland, scoring 22 against England last year, but his record at the Basin Reserve is good. He has scored 748 runs at 62.33 including two hundreds and five half-centuries. Brendon McCullum and Peter Fulton are the other top run-scorers at the venues of this Test series, with Fulton scoring 291 at 72.75 in two Tests at Eden Park, including two hundreds in a Test against England the last time he played at the venue.
Among India's current top-order batsmen, only MS Dhoni has played in Tests in New Zealand before this tour. He has hit 155 runs at 77.50 with two fifties in two Tests. The next-highest run-scorer for India from the current team is Zaheer Khan with 138 runs from five matches. Zaheer has made more significant contributions with the ball in New Zealand, taking 24 wickets from five Tests at 22.95 - his second-best bowling average in a country, after Zimbabwe. He has taken three of his seven overseas five-wicket hauls in Test in New Zealand, with two of them coming at the Basin Reserve. Ishant Sharma is the only other bowler in the India squad to have bowled in Tests in New Zealand, taking eight wickets at 41.75 from three Tests.
Given how India's batsmen largely struggled against New Zealand's fast bowlers in the recent ODI series, the bowlers are expected to come hard at the India batsman in conditions that have been helpful to fast bowlers. As expected, fast bowlers have tasted greater success at both the venues, but more so at the Basin Reserve where they average nearly 10 runs fewer than the spinners. The hosts will be banking on their fast bowlers - who bowled exceedingly well in the recent series against West Indies, taking 54 of the 60 wickets to fall - to improve their win-loss record at home, even as India look to end their winless streak in away Tests.
|Eden Park, Auckland|
|Basin Reserve, Wellington|
Shiva Jayaraman is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo.com