India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bangalore September 4, 2012

New Zealand's reasons for hope

In Bangalore, the visitors showed pluck and glimpses of the skills in their possession. Now, they must sustain their desire to do well in Test cricket

Five losses out of the last seven Tests makes poor reading for New Zealand, but there remains a feeling of respite in the aftermath of the Bangalore defeat. Despite a winning margin of five wickets, with Indian partnerships of 77 and 96 in the final innings, there was a sense of fight in the New Zealand ranks; something the first Test shambles lacked.

The Hyderabad loss left a taste of insipid apathy; the Bangalore loss reinvigorated the Test appetite. Losing in a decent contest earns respect. New Zealand demonstrated pluck through the batting of captain Ross Taylor, the bowling of a youthful pace attack and the guile of offspinner Jeetan Patel. Even at 32, Patel showed he is an alternative coming out from Daniel Vettori's shadow. In the second innings, Patel was treated lightly by Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina before bowling them, while Cheteshwar Pujara was hesitant before flicking a catch. Patel deserved his three wickets in challenging circumstances.

Unlike December's victory over Australia, New Zealand could not drag the Test their way. In that match in Hobart - also minus Vettori - they were assisted by a strip with bite. Bangalore provided more of a contest for bat and ball, where the will of India captain MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli proved unbreakable.

Yet, until the last few balls, the pair had to work hard. The contest made for an absorbing evening's viewing in New Zealand. Fans could afford to shelve channel-surfing contingency plans.

Ross Taylor's first-innings century and aggressive captaincy - placing a regular three slips in the cordon for Southee and a short leg and silly point for Patel in the fourth innings - showed a maturity and a quiet fury to propel his team into a better era. He was rewarded with tight bowling for moderate periods. Taylor backed his hunches; like refusing Patel the right to put a man back after Sehwag blasted him for a six over long-off. Sehwag was bowled three balls later.

Sadly for New Zealand, Taylor was given little top order batting support in the first innings as he eased to his seventh test century. Fifty to 100 more runs could have taken New Zealand out of danger. Likewise, in the second innings, no New Zealand batsman could fully dominate the spinners, with seven batsmen scoring between 22 and 41. The hosts faced a manageable 261 to haul in, despite it being a record fourth-innings chase on that ground.

The Hyderabad loss left a taste of insipid apathy; the Bangalore loss reinvigorated the Test appetite. Losing in a decent contest earns respect

Tim Southee, backed by like-minded aggression from Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell, produced a gifted spell to knock India back. His 7 for 64 that places him sixth on the list of all-time best New Zealand bowling performances. His ability to trouble India's line-up by moving the ball to and fro was a credit to his mental aptitude after he earned inclusion at the expense of veteran Chris Martin.

Inspirational moments peppered the fielding performance too, like Daniel Flynn scampering crab-like from short leg to take a one-handed catch off the in-form Pujara.

Hopefully, though, New Zealand fans can resist reverting to apologist-speak like "rebuilding" and "moving forward" to describe the current team. Those excuses tire quickly in an era where there is more exposure to the international game than ever before from age-group level up. There is plenty of talent but more consistency is required. On the bowling front the India batsmen worked too many loose balls to the boundary with their wrists or "on-the-up" limited-overs style. The batting top order remains more miss than hit with porous defence.

Taylor said afterwards they were disappointed with how they played in Hyderabad and wanted to show some fight and courage. They did so, but the onus is now on the players to avoid losing that desire to apply themselves in the longer form. For several of the team, patience is about to be replaced with premeditation at the World Twenty20. The Sri Lanka Test series is shortly afterwards and New Zealand need to further demonstrate that they have serious aspirations in the Test game to keep the public with them.

Andrew Alderson is cricket writer at New Zealand's Herald on Sunday

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    In future, this cud be a team to look out for..especially the explosive batters like guptill,ryder,mccullum,taylor....the day even 2 of them fire wud be a cakewalk...

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 11:48 GMT

    I don't agree with anything mentioned in this article! This has been the story of every recent tour - thrashed in the first match, putting up a good fight and still ending up on the losing side - getting laurels all around for fight! Come on guys - this is pathetic - when do we come around to learn that winning is everything? We sound like a team which is satisfied with putting up a fight and ending up losing! ridiculous!

    And the comments by fans? Future? What future are we talking about? Everytime the future becomes the present, we still end up doing the same thing! Yes, supporting the blackcaps can take hell of a toll, but come on, we have to expect more and be more critical! This performance is simply not acceptable!

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    New Zealand team played competitively in Banglore. I thought Williamson and Flynn should have batted with more responsibility. They were few runs short in 2nd innings. 300-320 would have been a good target.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 1:52 GMT

    @dalboy12: Amen, Trent has to be the skinniest guy ever to send it down at 145kph. Being a skinny left armer myself, it warms my heart to see one in the NZ team. Good to see Tim Southee finally pulling finger and operating as advertised as well. Please no injury plague Black Caps!

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    @Dalboy12. In the Indian teams of old & new, Rmakant Desai in the old days and Dinda now, are smaller in physical frame than Boult. Boult will do well. Especially with all the modern technology / training available for developing physical strength and stamina.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 0:49 GMT

    I see good future for NZ. The three young pace bowlers are really good. They need just encouragement and good fielding /catching support. Hope they give the trio an extended run to gain confidence. Patel proved a worthy successor to Dan. On turners, Dan-Patel combo will be formidable. So Bowling seem to be settling down. In batting, consistency seem to be the main problem. McCullum, Ryder, Guptil, KW, & Taylor make a good top five. Like most of the other teams, they need to get a solid No 6.(Till then, Franklin will do a good hold-on job.) I haven't even considered many fringe players like Flynn, Watling , and so on. There are potential national level players in their U-19 team, which just played in the World cup in Australia. They needed to be identified and carefully developed in their national academy / high performance centers. Future looks good, indeed.

  • Dale on September 4, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    i just hope there is some good conditioning work going into these young pace bowlers, NZ don't produce a huge amount of top-class cricketers and its hurts us when the ones we do produce are struck down with injury --- Bond, Oram. Boult especially has to be the smallest fast bowler in world cricket, not just in height but his whole frame is very slight --- so hope they have these guys are doing not only the work required --- but wise work to keep the injuries at bay.

  • Vibhor on September 4, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    A strong New Zealand team is good for world cricket where already the number of top test playing nations are very few. I wish them luck and hope they once again become a formiddable side.

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