India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day November 13, 2010

Patient India wear down New Zealand

ESPNcricinfo staff
A wait-first-and-capitalise-later approach did the trick on the second day for the home side

India are well placed for "moving day." It's what their bowling coach Eric Simons called days three and four, when the Test takes large strides towards its conclusion. And it was a patient wearing down of New Zealand, rather than a concerted attack, that allowed India to control the pace of the game and reach a position from where a strong batting performance on Sunday will give them command of the match.

To achieve that, India used fields that weren't popular. Harbhajan Singh began spells, even his first of the day, with a deep point and a long-off. In what appeared to be reactionary tactics, MS Dhoni sent fielders to protect the boundary immediately after Jesse Ryder or Tim Southee slogged Pragyan Ojha in a particular direction. Zaheer Khan had a third slip at the start of the day but watched an edge from Ryder fly wide of second slip in the seventh over.

On Friday, the fields for Tim McIntosh had not been attacking either and singles were easily available as the batsman nudged and pushed his way through the nineties to his second international century. Martin Guptill, who was fighting to secure a Test berth, even spoke of his relief at some of the fields set because they allowed him to "just push it around and get off strike here and there."

India always had men in catching positions, though - a permutation of a couple of slips, a short leg, a silly point and a leg slip, waiting for the edge. But between them and the men in the deep, there were expanses of grass with singles for the taking. These in-and-out fields are the vogue and, on pitches where assistance for bowlers is minimal and shot-making is easy, they are effective because they keep the bowling side in the game for longer by controlling the run-rate, even if the wickets aren't forthcoming. So despite India's struggle for breakthroughs on day one, New Zealand managed only 258 and were only an early wicket or two away on the second morning from falling behind.

And fall they did. Zaheer struck two momentum-wresting blows in the first half-hour after which Harbhajan capitalised to finish with four wickets. Everyone was caught at the wicket, lbw or stumped. Persevere for the breakthroughs, but let's also keep New Zealand's scoring in check, was the formula. New Zealand lost six wickets for 92 runs and ended with 350, a total Ryder felt wasn't enough. "I think we are a good hundred runs short from what we wanted after the start we had yesterday," he said at the end of play.

We are a good hundred runs short from what we wanted after the start we had yesterday
Jesse Ryder

India's wait-first-and-capitalise-later approach didn't end there. Perhaps wary of the havoc Chris Martin had caused in the second innings in Ahmedabad, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir fought through a testing period with the new ball. Both batsmen struggled as Martin swung the ball in and Southee moved it out from tight lines and lengths. The openers attempted a few shots and were beaten but they stuck it out until the bowlers tired in the heat and their discipline wavered.

Sehwag, who had pottered to 2 off 23 balls, got going soon after a change of bat in the eighth over. Gambhir, in the middle of a slump, attempted to emulate his partner with an unsuccessful waft outside off stump. Sehwag met him mid pitch immediately after and spoke while his partner listened.

In the 16th over, after he had struggled to 16 off 48 deliveries, Gambhir played his first convincing shot on the off side - a cover drive against Southee - after which he looked up at the skies and said a few things to himself. Soon, his feet began to move smoothly, he began to place balls in gaps, and though he never matched Sehwag's fluency, Gambhir had fought his way through a rut and was part of a century opening partnership for the first time since Dhaka in January. When Sehwag brought up India's 100 with a drive through cover off Vettori, the batsmen met mid-pitch and punched gloves to celebrate. They would do so again a while later, when Gambhir steered Southee to the third-man boundary to reach his fifty.

Gambhir and Sehwag eventually fell in successive overs - the 41st and 42nd - but because India had already knocked 160 off New Zealand's total, the visitors will need a few more quick strikes on moving day to bring the Test back into balance.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • J Ranjith on November 14, 2010, 19:57 GMT

    From today onwards, Daniel Vettori would be acting on the advice of first_slip only, even if nobody is standing in that position.

  • Prbath on November 14, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    Oh my god, Daniel Vettori ! what you have done? you shouldn't have teken Shewag's wicket when he is on 96, you should have let him get the hundred, Indian Cry babies must be furious with you, oh god what have you done Daniel? dont you know the rules? believe me it was big mistake mate

  • praveena on November 14, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    @Ian316- Yes definitely the 'asses' will begin . Contest without world's no 1 team is like 2 teams playing to survive in cricket. And srilankan's are lion in home and no need to tell outside.

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2010, 2:26 GMT

    @Ian316 What is rubbish in this? Sehwag's exciting stroke play? Or Scoring 178 runs in 49 overs? As for the Ashes it's gonna be a cakewalk for England. Read the other article about Aus selectors' head aches. They don't know who to pick coz everyone is out of form!

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2010, 2:05 GMT

    @Ian316. I think you are forgetting the India-Aus test series which Aus lost 2-0 is a very closely contested series.

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2010, 1:56 GMT

    India now has the platform to push ahead in the test. The scoring rate hereon has to be 4 runs per over and India should ensure that they bat only once in this test. Good chance for Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman to get big scores and get Raina and Dhoni to bash the ball later to set up a good target for the Kiwis. However, the team that tore apart Shane Warne is not so comfortable against Vettori. Chris Martin and made a good start but is still new and needs to prove his consistency.

    The first session of the game on the third day would be decisive as to which way the game is heading.

  • Ian on November 13, 2010, 23:45 GMT

    I cant believe that this is the no. 1 test team in action. What rubbish cricket? Typical over-rated, over paid bunch who think they are gods.... Keep it up guys!!! Can't wait for the ases to begin. At least there might be some interesting cricket on display

  • jack on November 13, 2010, 22:49 GMT

    @rumy1 stop living in the past 1) kaif has been tried and failed and does not deserve a place in this side again as their are others preforming better and at at the moment rraina deserves his run because of his good form 2) jaffer is again a tried and failed who with no feet movement would fail on any pitch that was not a flat indian wicket (would not have scored any runs against martin and co on this pitch that had some bounce)

  • burger on November 13, 2010, 22:46 GMT

    You know why india became no1 and why other countries in sub continent couldnt achieve it.Bcoz india focussed on becoming no1 whereas other countries like srilanka,pakistan,bangladesh(they are no1 from focussed on criticizing india n bcci(May be they are jealous on india's cricketing talent and bcci's super power and also IPL)

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2010, 22:18 GMT

    @Rumy1: And you should be the captain and selector of India, South Africa, Australia and umm.. lets say even Pakistan - all at the same time !! We trust you - to lead all of these teams at the same time, simaltaneously in matches across the globe.

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