India v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Nagpur, 1st day November 20, 2010

Still lots of cricket left - Vettori

ESPNcricinfo staff

It was a strange day. Over two hours of play were lost, but it had rained for just 40 minutes yesterday afternoon. Just before the toss, Brendon McCullum collapsed during a gentle warm-up session, and couldn't open the batting. Then the team that batted so well in the last two Tests went down as if they were shot. The bowling was fine, but it wasn't of such high quality to warrant such a collapse. And just as you thought New Zealand had raised the white flag, two limping men put up a stiff fight.

Watching New Zealand surrender meekly this afternoon, after they had matched India over the first two Tests, it's tempting to reach for an easy answer: was it because they do well as underdogs but the moment they are on even keel with their opponents, they freeze up? They considered themselves favourites in Bangladesh, but were crushed. They were expected to go down tamely to India, but they reached Nagpur with their reputations enhanced. And then they froze today.

Daniel Vettori, of course, didn't see it that way. "I don't think so. You have to give credit to India; they bowled well and hit the right areas. The feedback is that it's not a 400-500 run wicket." It may not be a 400-run pitch, but it wasn't bad for batting either. "They bowled well, the spin was slow, but it's not a 147 for 7-wicket," he conceded.

Another possible answer to the conundrum lies in McCullum's injury. It is a big blow to lose an in-form opener - especially someone like McCullum, whose aggressive batting puts pressure on the opposition attack - but it can't be an excuse for such a poor show by the rest of the batsmen. After all, this is McCullum's first series as an opener and New Zealand can't already be so dependent on him. And openers, especially the attacking kind, do get out early on many occasions.

Perhaps the timing of the injury and the resultant confusion triggered a chaotic state of mind in the camp? Vettori didn't agree with that one either. "No, I don't think so. Apart from myself, it was not like the guys got themselves out. It wasn't a hard decision at the toss [to bat first]. The nature of the wicket was to bat first. We were pretty confident Brendon would come out to bat tomorrow and bat and run normally. Unfortunately it didn't happen. He still showed his quality to come out to play and play so well. Brendon has a history of back spasms; they normally take a day to heal. We wanted to bat out the day and have him come out in the middle-order, but unfortunately that didn't happen."

There is one other simple conclusion lurking in the background. It would be easy to say that India will go on to take a big lead, have enough time to bowl out New Zealand in the second, and seal a series win. But it's too simplistic a thought, and Vettori left with a note of defiance: "If we can scrap hard tomorrow and get some runs and then take early wickets we can put the pressure back on India. There's still lots of cricket left in the game."

He has a point. By tomorrow, New Zealand will return to being the underdogs and will have their backs to the wall. It's where they like to be and when they play their best cricket.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adithya on November 21, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    new zealand have to blame themselves for this situatuion. sreesanth bowled beautiful early on in the game to get the first 2 wickets. but new zealand came out with the mindsight that they have to last the whole day and mccullum bats on day 2. so they were playing for time and not runs. mcintosh played one shot from 24 delvieries. taylor knew only way to pass time and that is scoring freely. he forgot to defend and was caught in two minds for that delivery. similarly, williamson and vettori didn't know what to do and tried different ways to pass their time at their crease. ryder and mccullum played well but they shouldnt have even been picked in the 11 when they aint fit enough. i dont like this because nz need to give some sort of competition and not fold so easily to keep the match going for 5 days. btw i am indian.

  • Sibhi on November 21, 2010, 16:19 GMT

    Bang_la : And You were saying ?.... Nothing Happend But all 4 batsmen getting 50+ :P Kind Info The Most Deficient Batsmen Out of the 4 in Short Balls,Managed 39 runs of 23 Short balls :P :D

    Sumedh : Only You can see that kinda Unpredictability, Are u Living in Jupiter's moon ?? :O Only Once have india Gone down Badly like that for almost 3 years now :D

    Gr8 show By the Guys Hope Kiwi can Get them Out Cheaply twice,Once 2mrw Morning and in the 2nd innings.Which is Totally Not Impossible :D, at the same time it will be Miracle :P to make a match Out of it.with 3 days left now, all One way traffic for the black caps In this Dark Indian Highway or Should I say Pitch (According to Bhajji):P:)

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    India is very unpredictable. they might score 300+ runs today & take away the match from NZ. or they might even get all out at 90.All we can do is just wait & watch.

  • Marcus on November 21, 2010, 3:05 GMT

    To put it proverbially, "the ball is in India's court". Can they come out and quickly rip through NZ's tail like they did with the top? Will their star studded batting line up stack up another massive total? NZ had their chance, and we kinda blew it. As an NZ fan, I wish them luck, but I have to admit, at the moment, its India's game.

  • Ashok on November 21, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    India must strike early to get the remaining 3 wkts. Hopefully Sreesanth will not start the day with another 13 run first over as he did on the 5th day at Hyderabad. The character of the teams will be at stake during the first 1/2 hour - their approach, determination and will to win.If India do not finish NZ below 200 then the game is made unneccessarily difficult.Sehwag and Gambhir must give India a good opening stand and it is about time that Dravid & Tendulkar show up their batting prowess with big scores. India need to put up a big total in the first innings to negate the 4th innings disadvantage.Can the World #1 team show their tru colours and show why they are #1 team in the World. Time to silence the critics but I still feel the India should have included Unadkat by dropping one batsmen. Ryder and McCullum still showed Imdian weak bowling despite their injuries - Umpiring was flawed again when one of these guys was caught at 3, which would have got the side out below 150.

  • P on November 21, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    slightly more attacking field settings showed results. maybe dhoni has been reading cricinfo comments. still hard to understand the field setting for 2 limping men. fielders on the boundary so even they can take a single. hilarious.

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 23:26 GMT

    Taylor wasn't out a poor umpiring decision and why no review system is beyond me. these players all have batted well before why can't they learn from their mistakes instead of making them. Not boding too well, hopfully there is a bit of difference and surprise with mckay.

  • P on November 20, 2010, 23:08 GMT

    @Bang_La: Believe it or not, NZ fast bowlers are actually slower than Indian pacers. The ones currently in the team all bowl less than 140kmph. If you don't believe me then check when they bowl tomorrow. NZ bowling is not that great.

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    the Indian fast bowlers weren't bowling at 125 they were more around 135, and 125 is actually the speed at which the ball swings the most, they bowled well so they got wickets. It was a good batting pitch, kiwis batted badly so they got out how can you accept the same from India looking at how kiwis played

  • Bang on November 20, 2010, 19:55 GMT

    Professor Vettori is so right! If Indian so-called pacers with 125 kph can get wickets, a lot of cricket to come when NZ bowlers with 140+ kph and bouncers will show up to knee-jerk batsmen of India :)

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