New Zealand v India, 4th ODI, Hamilton January 28, 2014

NZ tackle India spinners with patience

For New Zealand to win the match, and seal the series, with so much ease in such conditions was some feat. It would not have been possible without the partnership between Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson

Crowe: Calm and collect effort from Taylor

The first ball of spin bowled in the New Zealand chase spun and bounced past a stunned Kane Williamson's bat in the eleventh over. There was even a small puff of dust to be seen where Ravindra Jadeja's delivery had landed. Before the series began, Hamilton was being talked about as the venue that would suit India the most. In the second ODI, rain made sure that didn't happen, altering the conditions considerably. But the fourth one-dayer was played under a hot sun and clear skies, and the help for the spinners made Brendon McCullum remark how conditions were more favourable to India than to the home side.

For New Zealand to win the match, and seal the series, with so much ease in such conditions was some feat. It would not have been possible without the partnership between Ross Taylor and Williamson. In their three partnerships this series, the lowest the pair added was 60 in the second ODI. They had started with 121 in Napier, and bettered that with 130 this afternoon. As significant as their numbers was the way they handled Jadeja and R Ashwin.

As McCullum pointed out earlier in the series, Williamson and Taylor are New Zealand's two best players of spin. Jadeja beat Williamson thrice in his first over alone. To see even Williamson struggle to put bat to ball would have raised alarms in the dressing room about the pitch. McCullum was on a hat-trick of ducks and James Neesham was playing his first game of the series. A wicket at that stage could have meant panic setting in, and a completely different outcome.

Williamson and Taylor were to allow none of that to happen. It wasn't going to be easy. As soon as he saw the first ball do that much, MS Dhoni added a second slip for Jadeja. He began with a backward short leg for Ashwin.

Jadeja, taking the ball sharply away from the right-handers, was proving especially hard to handle. Williamson tried getting forward, but that first ball had already created doubts. He could not stretch fully, and ended up feeling for the ball as it zipped across the outside edge. Taylor was beaten as he tried to cut. He also faced issues with Ashwin's carrom ball, and a marginal leg-before call was turned down off one of those.

Jadeja and Ashwin bowled in tandem for 10 overs. New Zealand scraped 30 runs during that period. Critically, they didn't lose a wicket. There were no blind charges, there were no heaves to try and hit their way out of pressure. Both batsmen were just trying to come through rough waters. And they were pretty rough.

"I don't think we laid a bat on ball in those first couple of overs," Taylor said. "I have played a few years in India. In New Zealand, it doesn't really turn as much and you just lunge on the front foot. But [we were] trying to play off the backfoot as much as possible and play into the gaps. Kane is a very good player of spin and we knew then that if we could negate them, we gave ourselves the chance to put pressure on their fifth and sixth bowler and that's what we did. Jadeja bowled very well. On another day, he could have got a couple of wickets and stifled our momentum."

The momentum was to swing back in favour of the patient soon. Having visions of his fast bowlers being taken apart at the death, Dhoni cracked and decided to save the spinners for later instead. India had blinked first. Taylor and Williamson took 63 in the next nine overs off the other bowlers before Ashwin was brought back.

New Zealand had passed the main examination, though, and were much more confident now. Taylor used the cut liberally, frequently going deep in the crease to send the ball past short third man. Williamson hit only four boundaries compared to Taylor's 15 but, as always, he rotated the strike superbly.

The hosts' patience was to be tested again, when Jadeja broke the partnership with the run-out of Williamson. Again, New Zealand showed awareness and discipline, Taylor and McCullum blocking in the batting Powerplay to see Ashwin through to the end of his quota.

Just how difficult it really was out there was evident as late as the 45th over, when Jadeja beat Taylor, on 107, on the forward push. Just how determined New Zealand were was evident when, with just 21 needed off 24, they calmly played out Jadeja's final over.

New Zealand were faced with close situations throughout this series. They came out on top the first two times and tied the third time. Fittingly, to take the series, they were required to beat India at their own game. There could have been no better way than nullifying their spinners on a turner.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sarang on January 30, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Well played Kiwis and wake up MSD. There is so much reluctance from MSD to accept or try changes. You can't expect to defend 278 in such small grounds with our bowling and he still persisted with dropping 2 batsmen from the team. Simon Doull has rightly pointed out that now the world cricket knows how to beat India in such conditions (if they didn't know already) and MSD needs to turn it around. There was so much planning for WC2011 from Kirsten, MSD and SRT starting about 1.5 years before the WC. Don't think Indian team is doing any of that right now.

  • Harry on January 29, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    I think too much is being read into the SA and the NZ bilateral series especially since India are defending champions. Apart from Aus no other team is consistent right now and even Aus struggled with their Test performances until recently. NZ is doing great at home which works well for their WC prospects but their real test is how they play outside. Ind are kings at home but honestly do not care enough to do well outside barring a few players. This Ind team is new and far from settled so losing games is not a big deal as long as their captain and team learn from that.

    Ind's problems are two main things - 1) change the opening batsmen and opening bowlers. Rohit needs to go down the order and Kohli should open. Pujara needs to play at No. 3 if he is fit since he can play fast bowling and build an innings. Pandey and Shami should open the bowling with Bhuvi and allrounder like Binny first change. 2) change the captain. MSD should play but Rohit be captain since he is in the team anyways

  • Salim on January 29, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    What to say about India's bowling. The self-proclaimed pace spearhead (Ishant) was axed due to hue and cry for his scalp from all corners. Nevertheless, he continued (and will continue) to get selected for every series in the past two years despite a dismal performance. The spin spearhead again continues to be a favourite of the captain, coach and the board president despite a pathetic record overseas. In 38 overseas ODIs, he has picked just 41 wickets at 40 apiece. Any other spinner would have been equally bad, so why not give others a chance? In the last six matches (against SA & NZ), Ashwin has picked just 2 wickets at 190 runs apiece! But he would still be persisted with till the clamour for his head gets unbearable. Raina was axed after failing to score a half century for 30 matches. Likewise, Ishant and Ashwin have failed to pick 4 wickets in an ODI, but are still considered the captain's favourites. On the other hand, newcomers have to perform in a couple of matches or are axed

  • RAJARAMAN on January 29, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    Did India lack a Vinay Kumar? He is generous both in gifting runs and taking wickets!!! Any takers?

  • Orang on January 29, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    @correctcall,"a pleasure to see India defeated" hmmm... the schadenfreude is kicking in eh , let's wait and see after the Test matches. @Jairam Amrith, think you mean Ishant and Raina should NOT be considered for any international fixtures", couldn't agree more.

  • jamie on January 29, 2014, 5:23 GMT

    I think Nz are well served with Nath Mcc as their spinner as well only giving 44 from his 10 overs because obviously the Indian batsman are some of the best in the world playing spin. Williamsom did his job as a part time spinner getting Rohit.

  • Dummy4 on January 29, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    Yes, it's very disappointing but I am sure India will fare better in the Tests, as they did in South Africa. They should definitely have played Pujara in the ODIs to provide ballast and to give him match practice for the Tests. As for the bowling, the resources are just not there, so no point blaming Dhoni. Bhuvneshwar seems to have lost his confidence, Shami is patchy, the 3rd seamer is just not there, but Yadav and Pandey must get a chance. Ishant and Raina should be considered for any international fixtures. Dhawan has proved to be very much a flat track bully, should work on his batting rather than moustache-twirling technique.

  • Che on January 29, 2014, 0:23 GMT

    @ ODI_BestFormOfCricket If these roads are what you call green tops what do you call the wickets you'll have to play on in countries like Aussie? When England toured here last year we got hassled about how our pitches are roads and don't do enough for bowlers. Now India are here and the same pitches are green tops. Funny thing is the pitches haven't changed. India just can't bowl on anything that isn't a dust bowl that turns 90 degrees on day 1 of a test match. Also if these are green tops why are scores of 300 common in this series?

  • john on January 29, 2014, 0:22 GMT

    Ross taylor..welldone..those late cuts and on drives with the right were in full control of your game and The game..

  • Jets on January 28, 2014, 21:56 GMT

    The total of 278 was not enough and NZ had a brisk start and they were playing average spinners. All these combined to not to set panic up in the NZ camp.

    If you wanna see how NZ can play spinners under pressure on a turning wicket look at their performances in India. Period.

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