New Zealand not content with draws
Daniel Vettori said he was "happy" with the performance after his side batted through a potentially testing morning session to ensure the series remained level, but stressed that New Zealand were neither "satisfied" nor "content" with the 0-0 scoreline going into the final Test in Nagpur. Mark Greatbatch, the New Zealand coach, had said in anger in the aftermath of the Bangladesh debacle that he would settle for two draws in India but Vettori said that was never the plan.
"It was never our intention to come here and draw. If you get into that frame of mind you take a backward step straightaway," Vettori said. "So we've come here to win a Test series and at times we've put ourselves in those positions. We still want to push, try and put ourselves in winning positions because not many New Zealand teams have come over here and won. It would be such an amazing achievement for us, for this side."
New Zealand began the final day in Hyderabad 115 runs ahead and with six wickets in hand. All that stood between them and the safety of a draw was the first hour and the threat of the second new ball. Kane Williamson began aggressively, scoring three fours in the first over from Sreesanth, while Brendon McCullum continued his solidity from the fourth evening. The Indian challenge died when Zaheer Khan left the field after bowling three overs to prevent a groin injury from getting worse.
"The previous mornings, when it swung around a little bit, the new ball's been the most difficult time," Vettori said. "We wanted to get through that first hour, hour-and-a-half, and see where we were at. Brendon and Kane played so well, so positively. But the fact that India were down a bowler probably made it quite difficult for them."
MS Dhoni, the India captain, laid a lot of the blame for India's inability to force a win on the pitch and Vettori, while not as scathing, agreed it was difficult track to take 20 wickets on. "The wicket had a little bit of pace in it, I think the thing that you want is for it to deteriorate and I think it stayed relatively similar," Vettori said. "The footmarks didn't come up and that didn't allow the spinners to really get into play."
New Zealand were forced to save the game on the final day but on the third, they were well placed to limit India's lead and surge ahead with a strong second-innings performance. Their chances of taking the upper hand, however, slipped away as Harbhajan Singh swung his way to a century and added 105 with Sreesanth for the last wicket. Vettori said that that period, during which Harbhajan became the series top-run-scorer, was possibly the only disappointment for New Zealand in the Test.
"If we look back on it, that's always going to be the disappointing aspect of the Test," Vettori said. "To fight so hard before that partnership, I think we had 200 for 7 on the day and Harbhajan played so well and so aggressively and took the game to us and really put us on the back foot. If we manage to get through the Indian middle-order again, we've got to be ready for Harbhajan and go pretty hard at him because he's played so well in these two Test matches."