New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 1st day

Post-lunch slack costs India

The format may have changed, but once again, a poor bowling display has already left the Indian batsmen with plenty to do

Abhishek Purohit in Auckland

February 6, 2014

Comments: 87 | Text size: A | A
Crowe: Surprised Jadeja was considered over Ashwin

Ishant Sharma protested vehemently to the contrary, but by the end of the first day's play it seemed clear that India had suffered a post-lunch dip in intensity that gave New Zealand the early running. Having reduced New Zealand to 30 for 3 after winning the toss under overcast skies, India watched on as Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum first stabilised the innings and then gave it momentum.

Asked whether India's intensity had dipped after lunch, Ishant's reply was emphatic - though unconvincing. "I don't think so. You can see that we did not let their run-rate get high at any point," he said. "It was always under control. Even as the wicket got flat and the ball got old, we kept bowling in the right areas. What is in our hand is that when the wicket goes flat, you have to be patient and see how to create pressure."

Williamson and McCullum put up 221 in 51 overs, a scoring-rate close to four-and-a-half an over. Most of those runs came after lunch, when both Williamson and Ishant said the pitch eased out. India probably think allowing two opposition batsmen to score at that rate on a flattening surface is acceptable.

The visitors also put down some catches, including that of Williamson's on 32. They kept bowling short and conceded boundaries to cuts, pulls and hooks, both top-edged and middled. All their three fast bowlers were down on their normal pace for most of the day. Their spinner, who was picked to keep a check on the run-rate, went for 81 runs in 20 overs. Their fielding suffered as well. Singles became doubles as the players ambled after strokes, expecting the ball to roll into the boundary. If all this does not point to a dip in intensity, nothing does.

To say that India let the momentum slip away is an understatement. It was wrenched away from them by two batsmen in flow, and the disappointing part was, India went too flat too soon in face of that fightback. Yes, the pitch eased out considerably after lunch. And at the toss, it was indeed a no-brainer to bowl, given the green below and grey above. But unless New Zealand have bowled on the pitch as well, the verdict on exactly how much bite it has lost, has to wait.

MS Dhoni had said his fast bowlers would have to run in as hard in their fourth spell as they did in their first in these conditions. But Zaheer Khan, the long-time leader of the attack, was found wanting even in his first spell. Zaheer's speed was in the early-to-mid 120s at the start, and no matter how canny or experienced a bowler you are, you cannot hope to worry teams consistently with that pace.

Kane Williamson pulls during his fifty, New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 1st day, February 6, 2014
India's quicks surprisingly persisted with the shorter ball, which the New Zealand batsmen happily kept dispatching for boundaries © Getty Images

Maybe it would have all been completely different had Peter Fulton's catch been held off the first ball Zaheer bowled, or if few of his deliveries that beat the bat had taken the edge. That wasn't to be, though.

Unusually for Zaheer, he seemed unable to make a comeback. He's turned games so often for India after a luckless or even ordinary start. There wasn't reverse swing to be had on this thick outfield, but even allowing for that, Zaheer's lack of penetration was too glaring. He sent down 23 expensive overs in the day. What India wouldn't have given for just 15 sharp ones.

Mohammed Shami was unlucky to not break through at the start after roughing up the openers with some lifters. But he overdid the short ball, as did the other two quick bowlers. Those poor deliveries were asking to be hit, and New Zealand duly obliged, picking them for boundaries.

Ishant did not think India were too liberal with the bouncer. "I think we bowled in pretty good areas. They played good shots. We bowled enough bouncers and they kept on playing the pull over the top of the keeper and the slip cordon. You can't control all this." New Zealand took ten boundaries off pulls or hooks. Six of those were off the middle of the bat, four were top edges, and they also cut five short and wide ones for fours.

For once, you could sympathise with MS Dhoni for slowly removing a slip here, a gully there, and putting an extra man on the boundary. He tried to attack for as long as he could, but with the bowlers leaking so many runs, his hands were tied.

Even Ravindra Jadeja, who Dhoni relies so much on for containment, began with successive poor deliveries down the leg side. Jadeja's strength is his line but that was astray right from the start. He had a worse economy-rate than two of the fast bowlers.

India cannot even say that they were undercooked, as they often are, going into this game. Three of these four bowlers had been part of the one-dayers. Zaheer had a decent, albeit lone, workout in the warm-up match. The format may have changed, but India's bowlers have left the batsmen with the catch-up role to play yet again.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (February 7, 2014, 2:16 GMT)

Wow... Hey! Hold on! Indian batting fails, 'pitch is doing way too much' Indian bowling fails.- it's a flat pitch. :P

Posted by RameshRayaprolu on (February 7, 2014, 0:19 GMT)

poor bowling can cost India this match..and possibly the series. will have to wait and see how Indian batsmen will play. NZ has shown their bowling capabilities already...

so, beware carefully..otherwise, a loss looks inevitable..

Posted by andrew-schulz on (February 6, 2014, 22:41 GMT)

You are maligning 3 good players there, top speed 55. 2 of them have already done enough to prove your ignorance. Every sign is that Williamson will join them.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 21:59 GMT)

no.2 vs no.8 team.. my foot.

Posted by Nampally on (February 6, 2014, 21:26 GMT)

There seems to be lack of communication on the squad selection. Can the Selectors justify Dhoni jeopardizing India playing consistently with the 3 Specialist Bowlers + I bowling all rounder? If Dhoni wants his own tactics & his own favourites in XI, why do we have a Squad with 5 players permanently benched? The strange point is after the Loss, Dhoni has a news conference justifying the Loss! He has blamed the lack of bowlers or their tardiness. Is it not a Captains job to reprimand the bowler when ever he falters in his line & length? Jadeja was the most expensive bowler with > 4 runs/over with Zero wkts. ZAK was the also >4 runs/over but he took 2 wkts. Bowling short & getting thrashed is crazy. ZAK & Shami over did it. Why doesn't one of the Selectors stay with the team & enforce some logic in XI selection. This will have some discipline over Dhoni who has lost every overseas Test series he captained thru' irrational XI. Best thing is to replace Dhoni as Captain.

Posted by Rattlethatcage on (February 6, 2014, 21:25 GMT)

My goodness! I thought our cousins across the ditch were one-eyed and unable to give credit where it was due when it came to cricket but a large portion of Indian journalists and fans seem to have the same myopic view when it comes to their team. The fact that they are currently being out played and out thought, as they have been throughout this tour, by a determined opposition seems to have escaped a vast number of you. I hope the New Zealand cricket team continue to perform as a collective and play for each other(something that India are not doing currently) to secure a test series win although it is indeed early days. I also hope that it is reported here that India have been outclassed by a team who just wanted it more and the comments posted concur with that truth. Bottle the arrogance please folks. It is unbecoming of you.

Posted by SaraJahanSeAchha on (February 6, 2014, 20:34 GMT)

Can't blame Dhoni if Vijay drops sitter catches. But nonetheless Dhoni has had his due in Tests as a consecutive loosing captain. It's time BCCI take tough decision and remove him of his Test captaincy. He does not perform well either in Tests in batting. What value is he bringing to the table for Tests. Only reason he has been retained as captain is due to his seniority. Virath has enough experience now to be selected as captain. Kapil was a captain at age 24 and so was Greame Smith of SA. Dhoni want's to be the captain in Tests because otherwise his slot is not guaranteed as a wicketkeeper.

Posted by SanjivAwesome on (February 6, 2014, 20:19 GMT)

Agree @Manas123. I believe an Indian cricket team has no performance accountability framework. I have trawled through to pick up clues. It is unclear. Therefore, Team Dhoni and Team Fletcher have no performance anxieties in overseas tours at all. I believe Dhoni is fully financially secure, so does not need cricket to supply his daily bread. Fletcher ditto. Several of the other Indian players are financially secure and don't need cricket to supply their daily bread either. As fans, we can scream hoarse about their performance standard. Regrettably, we are at the mercy of each individual cricketer's personal work ethic and intrinsic work standard.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 20:07 GMT)

1. Entire responsibility for match situation should be borne by Murali Vijay. 2. Need a modification to the ICC proposal to allow 2-tier system with relegation immunity for India only. This is fair because BCCI has the most money, and without money there would be no cricket. If India finishes last then team #3 is relegated; if India is #3 then #2 and #4 are both relegated; if India wins then all 3 other teams are relegated. This allows maximum opportunity for other nations to play India and get their 10% of the gate receipts (15% if the match is not in India).

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 20:05 GMT)

we can produce even 10 more Sachins but yet to find a single Akram

Posted by Optimistix on (February 6, 2014, 20:03 GMT)

Brendon McCullum is an ordinary test batsman with an average of 36 - but India's bowling is even more ordinary. Any team that keep playing proven test failures like Ishant and past-it spearheads like Zaheer more than deserves its losses.

And there's no point in us talking about bowling being India's weakness, while playing with 6 batsmen and only 4 bowlers. Much as I like MSD, we need to move on without him in the test team - fat chance of that happening in the near future, though.

Posted by whocareswhowins on (February 6, 2014, 19:58 GMT)

The desperate times for Indian cricket started with the 4-0 + 4-0 drubbings in Eng and Oz in 2011-2012. It has continued....and continued....BCCI, the selectors, Fletcher and co., Dhoni, the team and us, the fans: we buried our collective heads in the sand and pretended the problem did'nt exist or would just go away..well, it has'nt. India's performances under the stubborn but poor captaincy of Dhoni have gotten progressively worse. BCCI do not care about the performances of the national team !! All it cares about is money and power. Change is needed from the top down. Maybe even a revolution. Srinivasan, Shukla and their cronies need to go first, otherwise the focus of BCCI will never be on Team India's performances. Dhoni must be sacked. If not, RIP, Indian cricket... from a thoroughly disgusted supporter.

Posted by pcraju on (February 6, 2014, 19:55 GMT)

Indians are having good food and relaxing in beautiful locations. They get everything more than what they need, even if they lose matches. Hence they dont have the intensity to work for winning the matches. Dhoni himself is a cool guy who only searches for some excuses on pitch, weather, etc to talk in post-match presentations. He doesnt provide that motivation and doesnt charge the players on the field. He doesnt speak to the bowlers appropriately, he cant even do that with his favorite players whom he consistently keep selecting - Ishant, Rohit, Ashwin, Jadeja, Raina. Dhoni is not aggressive, hence the fielders are not aggressive as well. They're not simply athletic at all on the field. Looks like they eat enough rice all the days and just want to stand there in the field. They're not learning looking at other teams. It is simply a dead show by the Indians on the field. Dhoni is not the right captain to get the best out of his team in these conditions. Only Sub-continents he can.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 6, 2014, 19:35 GMT)

@ Shri Ram wrote "Now, though it might seem too early, i feel Indians are going into their 13th winless test abroad."

Well, it is always said to reserve judgement until both teams have batted, so as to get a fair indication of the conditions. However, I fell you are may be correct. The tasty snacks the Indian bowlers delivered as a supposedly intimidating short ball game will not be repeated by the NZ quicks - not that India's quicks are really quick anyway. The Indian bats will receive their customary barrage at the throat, & Dhawan & Vijay will soon capitulate. Nohit won't hit, & it will all be up to Pujara & Kohli, with only Rahane & perhaps, maybe, Dhoni as backup. They will have a very big hill to climb, with McCullum looking good for a double, and Anderson very keen to post his second ton.

Despite a very promising start, India looked hopeless after lunch, the poor bowling matched by some below club fielding. Unless they resume like they started, an innings defeat looms.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 6, 2014, 19:34 GMT)

The 200 partnership was achieved at 4.5 runs/over & he suggests it was "under control"? Someone did tell him it was a test & not a ODI, right? That's gold!

Posted by cricpov on (February 6, 2014, 19:32 GMT)

Pace, Accuracy, Movement, Variety (PAMV - my term) are the 4 mantras to go buy for a fast bowler in that order (my opinion only). You have all 4 you stand to be amongst the best.

Zaheer had all of them, but in the past. He does not bowl at sustained speeds today, but is still the best of the 3 on display in this test with Shami close behind.

Ishanth has some wayward movement once in a while but none of the other qualities. What can you expect from him?

Posted by topspeed55 on (February 6, 2014, 19:31 GMT)

Jadeja is a true selection Ashwin is really struggling lately. Jadeja always focusses on the basics so gets into rhythm quickly while Ashwin is more weary of variations and so unable to get into rhythm. Overthinking makes you more confused as a player instead you need to accept the situation and stay calm and get into the rhythm or a form. Ashwin needs to learn this.

Though its too early, Kane willamson looks solid but same like David Boon and Saeed Anwar he will only be successful against the weak attacks like India.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 18:56 GMT)

Now, though it might seem too early, i feel Indians are going into their 13th winless test abroad. There has been lot of changes during the course of these 13 tests, but one thing that has been common is Dhoni's captaincy. I think it is time to hand over the test match captaincy to Kohli, just to bring in some freshness and new apprach. I have always been a big fan of Dhoni and I don't blame him for this 13 tests, but I think we have come to a desperate position where we have no other choice to revive the test team while touring abroad. May be it would be better to even rest Dhoni for the rest of the series just to bring in a change.

Posted by InsideHedge on (February 6, 2014, 18:52 GMT)

One can't help but read the reaction of the English press and fans to the Ashes defeat with interest esp in comparison to the Indian media and particularly the BCCI. Our board is so busy with the new draft proposal, affiliate associations salivating at the prospect of hosting more internationals that I'm not sure they're even aware of the performance of the national team since winning the 2011 CWC.

Meanwhile, in the written Indian press, there are no heavyweight journalists who carry any influential opinion. The skipper, MSD, and his coaching staff of Fletcher, Dawes and Penney (along with a cast of unknowns) would never have survived with any other team.

Look at NZ coach Hesson. He's gone thru hell from a fanbase that's notorious for being low key and self deprecating.

Just how do you keep your job with these results?

Posted by Manas123 on (February 6, 2014, 18:51 GMT)

India should get rid of Dhoni as captain and play him as a batsman\keeper. There needs to be a change and one person staying for too long can rot things .Team India need new energy and new thoughts.

The process should be as follows-- First-Get rid of Duncan Fletcher .Ever since he has been with India team they never win over seas, besides being one of the most experience coaches he does nothing. Get a bowling coach like Akram, MCGrath but not the current coach he cnat even groom Ishant Sharma or the other bowlers to be effective at least if not deadly. Thirdly-- Dhoni is too close to the BCCI and therefore thinks of himself as god and plays with same failed players again and again in spite of having talented bowlers like Amit Mishra on the squad he didn't even try him once. He likes to play with his IPL Chennai Super kings mates. Somebody need to tell him to stop ,he has stopped thinking out of the box so we need a new captain they will lose but will learn also and its extremely pain

Posted by InsideHedge on (February 6, 2014, 18:47 GMT)

@wolf777: Fully agree about Shami being over bowled. Same with Bhuvi. In the recent ODI series, what was the point in playing both of these guys in the last 2 ODIs?

When Zaheer was younger, he regularly played in meaningless ODIs, so did Srinath. Back then, the word of the player counted. Many Indian players are insecure, they would cover up niggles and play in fear of losing their place to an upstart. Now that we have a huge backroom staff, and coaches that are supposedly responsible for the team's fortunes, many of these decisions should be taken out of their hands yet prize assets continue to be flogged till they are utterly useless.

Posted by InsideHedge on (February 6, 2014, 18:42 GMT)

The team has run out of excuses, pure and simple. Why do they even send the clown, Ishant, for a press conference? Often, we see Trevor Penney sent to the firing line, it says something about our LEADERS.

Indian cricket is in a shambolic state. The other day, Karnataka won the Ranji Trophy but I couldn't see one player in that team or in the runners-up who could replace the proven failures in the national team.

At the start of this series, we were ranked #2 in Tests. It will be interesting to see where we are at the end of the England series.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 18:05 GMT)

Indian cricket team has main problem is "bowling". India need bowling coach very badly . BCCI need to consult one bowling coach like McGrath ,wasim akram ,.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 18:03 GMT)

zaheer should be given a one way ticket back home. he is done with bowling at this level. his inclusion was a surprise to begin with . this team looks tired and worn out. they don't chase the ball and they have started to field poorly. is it fatigue or is it too much cricket . the two openers who sizzled at home have fizzled overseas . clearly rohit and dhawan don't have what it takes to open on fast bouncy tracks. is it time to recall gautam and co. since this team is rebuilding why not try out some new young talent like zol and rasool.

Posted by iHitWicket on (February 6, 2014, 17:58 GMT)

All us Indian fans have to look forward to is the IPL - whatever happens an Indian team wins there. After all isn't IPL the prime focus of our cricketing board?

But NO .. the heart craves Test wins .. that too in far off unfamiliar lands. Stop playing the odds .. don't make cricket a statisticians game. Bowl with fire in your belly not a thought that you have to bowl 10,20 more overs. Now its up to Pujara, Kohli and Co. Ohh please Indian cricketing demi-gods .. please deliver us a win and join the pantheon of Indian cricketing gods.

Posted by reluctant_fan on (February 6, 2014, 17:56 GMT)

It never feels like India is bowling / attacking to a plan. Most of the other international teams study the opponent's batsmen thoroughly and then bowl at each with the plan to exploit the individual batsman's weakness. Indian bowlers seem to be just going through the motions and hoping for the batsmen to make mistakes. They don't even bother to bowl to the fielding plan that they have set up along with the captain. It is mind boggling to see lack of some common sense approaches at this level.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 17:56 GMT)

i wanna be the Psychiatrist of our Indian Team. i couldn't understand, this team is representing the India. Rohit Sharma got chances n chances, Ishant Sharma got chances n chances. Worst Bowling time ever going for India. I don't think this kind of bowling suits to the Nation India. where we have lots of talented people especially in Cricket. There are lots of other capable players, whose are waiting for a Single Oppertunity. Team India represents the Indian Cricket and its not the actual Indian Cricket at all. Mind it MSD n BCCI.

Posted by timepass2014 on (February 6, 2014, 17:51 GMT)

This whole team doesn't make sense anymore...especially the bowlers being selected. How much more are we going to keep going back to same tried (tired) and tested and found wanting time and again. Was surprised at Zaheer selection after SA series. Already lost my interest in this series. Once again the batsman like Pujara and Kohli would have to bear the brunt of our bowling failures. Its one thing in shorter format but in the longer version its the bowlers who win the games....batsman can only save them.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 17:44 GMT)

Its time for Indian fans to stop wasting their valuable time on watching Indian Cricket. We will lose the ongoing series and the series with England and Australia.

Posted by Blueangle on (February 6, 2014, 17:32 GMT)

Does Ishant really know that he is playing test cricket? Someone should tell him that India leaked 275 runs in 66 overs in two post-lunch sessions at a healthy rate of 4.16 RPO. What is high run rate in test cricket? 7/over?

Posted by nainil0683 on (February 6, 2014, 17:30 GMT)

Why does this clown Ishant Sharma comes out to press conferences when he thinks he bowled well and picked up couple of wickets. He said "You can see that we did not let their run-rate get high at any point." Are you kidding me?????? They were easily scoring at 5+ an over. Ishant should consider himself really lucky that after conceding 30 runs in an over against Australia and bowling like a clown (which he is), he is still in the team. If Badrinath, or Manoj Tiwary, or even Pujara were given quarter of his chances, they would have been the back-bone of Indian batting in Tests and One-dayers.

Posted by wolf777 on (February 6, 2014, 17:28 GMT)

If you make a horse do donkey's work…Guess what? It will become a donkey. Dhoni has a habit of understaffing his bowling department. He regularly picks only three fast bowlers for away games and expect them to be fresh at the end of the day. It's not going to happen. India had at least one tired horse running the race all the time. Why can't Dhoni pick enough bowlers? What happens if one of the bowlers gets sick or injured? Play the rest of the Test with only three bowlers? Tired and listless bowlers let opposition run up big scores and then batsmen are under pressure to play to stave off the defeat. On the longer perspective, over-bowling results in a constant churning of fast bowlers. They come in, show the spark and then lose out steam after constant over-bowling. Not too long ago Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was a new hope for Indian attack. Now he cannot find a place. The new flavor of the season is Mohammad Shami. He has constantly been over bowled for three series now. Pretty soon Shami

Posted by JustIPL on (February 6, 2014, 17:19 GMT)

It has been a norm now that indian batsmen are left to chase big totals which has started to impact their performance too. Dhoni/Kohli take most of the pressure and if they go cheaply and indians cant escape defeat.

Posted by Jaganplus on (February 6, 2014, 17:02 GMT)

I think most of you guys on wrong track. If the catches were held, NZ would be 5/6 down in second session. Which means it easier to target wrapping up the innings. If bowling is weak link support them by fielding and maybe having 5th bowler. Dropped catches hurt the morale of bowlers. LEt's face it bowling is not up to par, but neither is batting (Pujara, Kohli, Rahane excluded) or fielding (why don't dhoni & slips stand a little farther new boundary;)).

And I thought Dhoni had to go after WC from test team, he should go now from the test team. Also most Indian's memory glaringly biased. Yes DHoni's team won 2011 @ home, didn't make it to super 8 in 2007. Will be ineffective in next WC. Don't be surprised-- just the facts maam!

Posted by CurrentPresident on (February 6, 2014, 17:02 GMT)

This team's obsession with "run rate" is so frustrating. It is not even working in ODIs and is downright wrong approach in test matches. And they give themselves airs like they are keen strategists and are really trying some complex maneuver.

Instead of attacking the batsmen and getting them out, they are solely focused on "run rate" control and hope that they can force the batsmen into giving away their wickets. That strategy only works if you are consistent and keep beating the batsmen. Unless you can create doubts in the mind of the batsmen, you will not be able to get them out.

This whole 'keeping things tight' is a strategy of intense discipline that the Indian team is incapable of pulling off. In fact, there is hardly any team out there that can pull it off.

Unless you have a bowling strategy and a plan for each batsman and implement it with purpose and aggression, you will not be able to take wickets.

Posted by BigINDFan on (February 6, 2014, 16:57 GMT)

The Ind team is becoming a joke right now with MSD losing his cricketing brain as a captain. He has accepted that his team lacks bowling skills and is going through the motions blaming the pitch, blaming field restrictions and blaming everything but himself. It is time for him to go away from tests and focus on ODIs and T20s. Make Pujara or Kohli as test captain and revamp the bowling line up - Pandey, Shami, Yadav, A. Mishra and Varun/Binny/Pathan. Ashwin and Jadeja do not belong in tests. Ishant does not belong at international level unless he improves and performs in domestic and IPL. MSD should be removed from the test team and replaced with Saha or Dinesh Kartik or even Rayudu as wicket keeper batsman. If the above changes are not happening then IND will go down the ENG way and lose comprehensively every single bi-lateral series in NZ, SA, Aus and Eng.

My recommended XI - Dhawan, Vijay, Pujara, Kohli (c), Rahane, Rayudu (wk), Mishra, Pandey, Varun, Shami, Yadav. 12th man - Binny

Posted by yrLA1 on (February 6, 2014, 16:56 GMT)

We Indians don't have swing bowlers. Why can't we train someone in these conditions outside India like in US, UK or Aus so they learn how to use the weather to advantage. Not one has the capability of moving the ball side ways with overcast condition. I thought they were bowling with kukabura ball on a grassy pitch with clouds over. I have seen Indians here in US swinging the ball sideways in club cricket with a much lesser helping conditions to swing than Aukland. Selectors should start recruiting overseas Indian players playing club cricket sometime to give some balance to our team.

Posted by mensan on (February 6, 2014, 16:50 GMT)

Difficult to say that the pitch has gone flat until we see NZ bowl here.

Posted by mensan on (February 6, 2014, 16:41 GMT)

Must be admitted that India is now a 20-20 team. They only bowl well the first 20 overs. Maybe a side effect of previous IPLs. Or bowlers practicing for the upcoming IPL.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 16:41 GMT)

India's consistent drubbing overseas should have prompted BCCI to include another clause in the new proposal for ICC. For example, in India's overseas tours, the opposing team will score only one four or six per over. And only six batsmen will bat. This is a bold new world, BCCI should have the cheeks to ask that.....

Posted by cricpov on (February 6, 2014, 16:40 GMT)

All bowlers have been found wanting. Test cricket needs bowlers who can bowl long spells and look threatening. India had only 3 real test class fast medium bowlers in the last 3 decades. Kapil, Zaheer (of past) , Srinath, the list ends there. Shami is Ok , but in some spells, Bhuvi not test class, Ishant not of any class. India should go with Umesh(fast!), Varun(fast!), Pankaj(Love his rising outswingers) and Ishwar(accurate and persistent).

If you are going to lose anyways, lose with the best talent you have in the country. Bowlers should make batman play every ball on or around the off stump and consistently moving it away or coming in making the batsman guess all the time. Only Kapil was a master at this. Srinath and Zaheer were right up there too. Current bowlers have not developed this art, hence they will never succeed at test cricket. This is the worst bowling attack we have had in years, thanks to the captain making such selections.

Posted by iceaxe on (February 6, 2014, 16:31 GMT)

Good luck with giving McCullum bouncers...

Would love to see this game go to completion, but there is rain about.

Posted by cric_follower on (February 6, 2014, 16:30 GMT)

Please try out Amit Mishra. At least he can beat the batsmen in the air. Jadeja is a very defensive option.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 16:17 GMT)

@rajeshj- harbhajan has taken 22 wickets from 5 marches in this years ranji trophy. selectors have faith in him that's why he's the captain of rest of india team,I'm hoping that he performs in the irani cup and comeback where he deserves to be.ashwin isn't going to stay long in the team,i see him getting dropped after this years test series in England because that would be his last chance.

Posted by ravindran2369 on (February 6, 2014, 16:03 GMT)

India will lose, anway, so why not try with some talented youngsters even if we lose..

Posted by Rajeshj on (February 6, 2014, 15:55 GMT)

@Gurdit: Its quite strange that Ashwin comes across as club-level bowler to you.. Even Saeed Ajmal bowled in Johannesburg in February 2013 and gave 150 runs for just 1 wicket.. Would you call him a club-level bowler?? A spinner cannot take wickets in all pitches.. Even Harbhajan/Kumble had taken wickets in Australia only in their second or third tours.. Form is temporary and class is permanent.. Understood, but you can't have a bowler who takes wickets once in a while and that too of mishits.. If you had watched Harbhajan bowl in the recent Ranji trophies (in spinning pitches in India), you can safely conclude that he past his best.. He struggled to take even Ranji players wickets and was quite expensive.. Let us approach the game in a practical sense and be not blinded by our obsession for a player or two..

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 15:53 GMT)

dhoni must not captain India in tests .He is almost non existent as captain and very weak batsman overseas .his favouritism for certain non performing players hurting India and new comers very badly.for such absolute control he wanted the legends to retire (dravid,laxman, )

Posted by LegSpinBowlr on (February 6, 2014, 15:37 GMT)

Wonder why Pandey was not picked inspite of being a top wicket taker in the warm up game. I was thinking maybe pandey could replace sharma

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 15:23 GMT)

Right after lunch, Dhoni starts with Kohli's bowling. WTF was that? One easy over can release the pressure on batsmen. And then Murali Vijay drops a dolly in slips. How can they win with such poor fielding standards? The guy went on to make a hundred. I am sick of Dhoni's captaincy. How can you play three bowlers who bowl in late 120s. Shami is exception but even he remains around 135k. They know pace matters abroad so why not play Umesh and Varun. When will they get a chance? When will they ever drop ISHANT? I mean the guy keeps getting selected, why? I am simply stupefied. Their best bowler on the tour game, Pandey, is not selected. Why? India lost first test in SA coz they didn't have 4th seamer to put pressure. Why did they again not select 4th pacer? It is all just way too confusing. Dhoni must not captain India in tests.

Posted by myStraightTalk on (February 6, 2014, 15:13 GMT)

Can the selector sack Dhoni as captain in the middle of a Test match? If so Dhoni should be replaced by Kohli as captain to prevent india defeat in this match. Dhoni has no strategy and he is a predictable captain. He have not taken any responsibility so far for the mega failure of the indian team.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 15:07 GMT)

These all are happening due to Dhoni's Over confidence,He is not learning from multiple mistakes. Even He have good players in squad,only opting for players out of form. he will always going for foolish decisions.Fans Even better knows than Dhoni have to play with 4 pacers with 1 spinner. Why again considered Ishant as got blamed a lot, I believe if there was a 4th pacer story will be absolute different today. All the captains are going for best players but Dhoni still prefer his favorites. This Test is already slipped from India's hand otherwise a big miracle have to happen to save the Test. Fans we dont have to waste time by seeing this. One more point why players like Yadav,rayudu,pandey to new zealand. is it for sight seeing????

Posted by ShanNachimuthu on (February 6, 2014, 15:05 GMT)

Need of the hour, a pace bowling all rounder, who are bat high up in the order and a genuine spinner. Also need to form different team for every format. Until then this is going to be regular feature of Indian team.

Posted by Amar_bw on (February 6, 2014, 15:01 GMT)

It is high time, India needs to prepare bouncy pitches in India. This will not only encourage fast bowling in India but will make batsmen better prepared in countries like SA, AUS, England, WI and NZ. Otherwise, they should simply stop playing outside of the sub-continent to avoid embarrassment.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 14:54 GMT)

@rajeshj -there's no thing called like expiry date for spinners,instead the mid 30's is the age where a spinner matures.harbhajan is a legend and remember that form is temporary but class is permanent. you praise ashwin containing du plessis and AB in that jo'burg test.huh....if ashwin had taken wickets then sa wouldn't have drawn that game.ashwin has taken just 2 wickets at average of 250+ recently and when bhajji was dropped he was not this bad. bhajji should be recalled b'coz we cant trust on club level bowler ashwin overseas.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 14:54 GMT)

I think Dhoni is content for a draw. India were struggling to take NZ wickets in ODI, how do they expect to bowl out NZ in tests (bowl out twice)?. By playing three specialist bowlers and one spinner who can bat, I dont think India will win test matches abroad. Our batting has depth, it goes till Jadeja, i'm guessing NZ will declare when they reach 550 tomorrow and then India will struggle to make 350, with a good lead NZ will play quick in 2nd innings and give India a target of 350 with 1 day to play (few overs on 4th day). I guess our batting is good enough to last 1 day. Dhoni is applauded for a draw. All the mistakes go unnoticed and within no time we are playing 2nd test.Our bowlers are not creating enough pressure by plugging up runs. They are not bowling in the right areas, they should be pitching the ball at 5-6 mtrs from the stumps on offline. But they bowl short on the legs, you cannot bowl that unless you are 140 kms plus. Zaheer was bowling those deliveries at 120 kms. JOKE

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 14:53 GMT)

Team India will bounce back. Shikhar, Vijay, Rohit, Rahane everyone will perform in this test. Young India needs one win to start their march. I am sure the day is not far now. All the best India

Posted by Rags57 on (February 6, 2014, 14:45 GMT)

Dhoni can be faulted only on selection matters - not sure why he keeps persisting with the same 3-man seam attack - Ishant may have bowled 6 or 7 good overs but that is not enough on a pitch that should have been exploited for more. I believe Shami Ahmed may be good but has been overrated - Bhuvanesh Kumar would have done better as an opening bowler. Finally given that bowling is India's weak point, it was foolish going with 3 regular bowlers and Jadeja who is not a classic spinner by any stretch of imagination. I for one don't believe Zaheer is anywhere near his old self - even in the Ranji matches in the last 6 months his record has been average at best. Ishwar Pandey bowled well with the old ball in the first match and Umesh at least has pace and intensity. Hope Dhoni would have learned from all this and given his limited choice, goes with a four man pace attack of Zaheer, Umesh, Ishwar and Shami Ahmed and Ashwin as the spinner.

Posted by Nampally on (February 6, 2014, 14:21 GMT)

When you do not include the right bowlers - who are in form- at the right time, you lose the war!. Pandey bowled so well maintaining good line & length in the practice match that he deserved a chance in the XI which had just 4 bowlers out of which Shami & Zaheer kept bowling short balls. Pandey would have been like a breath of fresh air to this doleful bowling. Dhoni persists on this insane XI selection of just 4 bowlers for a 5 day test match. You cannot order intensity from the fast bowlers when they are stretched to 25 overs/day at the age 35! It is plain common sense. Pace bowlers are best used in short bursts of about 5 overs to a maximum of 18 overs/day. It was clear after 30 for 3 start the dropped catches carried the momentum in NZ way & bowlers lost their heart + got tired as they were stretched beyond 20 overs. Sadly Dhoni lacks understanding of some basic fundamentals. The sooner he is replaced, the better it is for India. His overseas captaincy has led to 100% Loss Record!

Posted by IAS2009 on (February 6, 2014, 14:12 GMT)

Dhoni captainship in this match and all the overseas looses in the past was very poor, he would be sacked by any other board long time ago (look at Cook only one ashes lost everyone is asking for his head, Flower is gone already) , u r not going to get the other tem out in 50 overs, being patient does not mean you put the fielder back and save boundaries there is absolutely no pressure on batsmen, from 30 for three in aprox. 24 over they let them score 300 runs in next 64, and this is with defensive field yielding only one wicket. If ZK can bowl only at 120K no matter how good u r, you will not get wickets in test match. Mind boggling selection by Dhoni, all fans can complain about every player but poor captainship will not bring team forward even against an unproven NZ side. If NZ pile up 500 it will tough ask for Inida, Kohli and Pujara are the only hope India batting has.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 14:11 GMT)

Shami has bowled well enough to deserve a go in the test team. Ishant Sharma is in the team for some odd reason. I know he picked up a couple of wickets, but it's about time he is made to pay for his lacklustre performances and guys like Ishwar Pandey are given a go. The only way that will ever happen if Ishant is dropped by the selectors, because Dhoni obv can't sit him out for too long. I think it's a part of his defensive nature as well. He would rather play Ishant than take a chance on a new bowler.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 6, 2014, 14:07 GMT)

India desperately need bowling coach.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 13:49 GMT)

One thing is very clear,V have no world class spinner and as,Dhoni and the selectors are keen to win matches on our tailor made home pitches. There is little encouragement for young fast bowlers. It was MRF foundation and D.K.Lillee that enabled a batch of fast bowlers. Now this is the ground reality. T

Posted by Rajeshj on (February 6, 2014, 13:28 GMT)

@Gurdit: India played Kumble/Harbhajan in grassy wickets, because there were not much of seam options available except the odd times when we had RP Singh, Sreesanth, Nehra, Irfan etc. When two genuine spinners operate in tandem even in grassy wickets, they would be effective in choking runs.. If India had played Ashwin-Ojha in this match instead of Rohit-Jadeja, the scoreline would be entirely different.. Even in the Johannesburg match, Ashwin did the role of containing batsmen beautifully... He kept De Villiers and Faf du Plessis in a tight control.. but did you understand and applaud it??? I don't think even Harbhajan would have bowled so economically in that lifeless pitch.. So problem is in our eyes rather than anything else.. Harbhajan is only 33, but he has already played 15 years of International cricket, which is a bit too high for a spinner's expiry date.. hope you understand..

Posted by pratit on (February 6, 2014, 13:14 GMT)

High time India played with 5 bowlers or find some sort of a seam bowling allrounder. Playing in India with 4 bowlers is allright, as the spinners bowl most of the overs. But asking 3 fast bowlers to bowl more than 20 over each while taking 10 wickets is a bit too much. This is not a justification of India's bowling performance. But the fact remains that this 3 fast bowler/1 spinner strategy is not working. It worked earlier because Anil Kumble was a legend and Saurav Ganguly bowled useful medium pace while Sehwag was a good spinner. Now we need a fifth bowler. But the kind of defensive captain Dhoni is, he will rather fill the side with 10 batsmen. And Zaheer's time is up. Much fitter fast bowlers have retired by 36 and Zaheer was never fit. And playing Shami continuously in all ODIs, T20s etc means he will lose his sting sooner than later. Ishant is a lost cause. Really hope to see players like Ishwar Pandey, B Kumar, Umesh Yadav in the test side.

Posted by T20Fun on (February 6, 2014, 13:07 GMT)

Too many things went wrong for India.

The problem seems to be Zaheer's obsession with reverse-swing. Far too often recently he has not done as well with the new ball hoping to get the opposition with reverse swing. The bowlers were extremely poor overall.

The wicket does look flat but we really wouldn't know because with a 500-odd cushion you can be sure the Kiwi bowlers won't be short of effort no matter what the scoreline.

India went off the boil quite quickly today. And Dhoni looks as if he happy drawing games.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 13:07 GMT)

You can't put all the blame on Dhoni's captaincy, no matter how good a captain you are, if the bowling options available to you are that non descript you're in trouble. Blame the mountain of pen pushers who line their pockets 'working' for the BCCI who haven't seen fit to instil any kind of discipline in the players, i.e. Zaheer Khan, no international bowlers in any other teams are that overweight and obviously unfit!

Posted by Nee_Surgeon on (February 6, 2014, 12:33 GMT)

Just wondering, is Umesh Yadav fit? If he is, then I reckon he should have been picked over Shami/Zaheer because he has that X-factor when it comes to bowling fast. He hits the pitch hard and probably would have got more movement out of the pitch in the morning session.

Posted by TRAM on (February 6, 2014, 12:24 GMT)

India keeper and slip fielders are standing so close to each other that they are affecting other's catches. And they are not crouching. No surprises. Keep recalling old players and giving zillion chances to favorite players. And a captain who cant demonstrate high standards of keeping but wants to be "cool".... What else would be the result? Utterly unprofessional !

Posted by denmore on (February 6, 2014, 12:15 GMT)

If India keeps performing this way....another drubbing coming up in this series and the approaching Aussie series. De-ja-vu :(

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

india needs the experience of harbhajan.he was also the highest wicket taker with 16 wickets on India's previous tour of new zealand. jadeja and ashwin could only take wickets on rank turners. kumble and harbhajan were never benched on grassy wickets overseas.they could decieve the batsman in drift,flight etc. harbhajan is just 33 and he as at least 4 years of cricket left in him.

Posted by WannaBeRusta on (February 6, 2014, 12:12 GMT)

No worries. Call Srinivasan and he will sort the situation out. ICC big 3 will order NZ to forfeit the 2nd innings and NZ will be glad to do so as they had already shown. Problem is - Still India might lose.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 12:12 GMT)

Not too long ago (in Australia 2011) a bowling lineup consisting of Yadav, Zaheer, Ishant and Ashwin was said to be the best bowling lineup they have played with by Sehwag and other senior Indian members. Add Shami, Bhuvi, Jadeja, Ojha and subtract 10 kilos of Zaheer to that and it would have been a fab lineup. Alas, a mirage. Still i do not know what wrong has Yadav done to be out of the test match team. He cant bowl worse than what we saw today!!

Posted by GoCho on (February 6, 2014, 12:09 GMT)

zaheer bowling in the low 120s was deliberate and a well-planned strategy. He is preserving his energy for ipl!

Posted by TRAM on (February 6, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

>>>with the bowlers leaking so many runs, Dhoni's hands were tied. Is that so? Who tied Dhoni's hands when the playing 11 was selected? IPandey proved he was superior to ISharma and Zaheer in the warm-up match. Why is he not in the 11 ?? 1. What is the point in selecting the proven failures match after match. 2. As a captain Dhoni should demonstrate high fielding standards. When does he ever dive to his left to gather the ball? Does he ever run to the stumps when the batsmen are running ?? 3. The catch Vijay dropped was (though atrocious drop) could have been taken by Dhoni. And Vijay was never a close-in fielder.(fyi, Vijay dropped an important catch at slips in a Ranji match as well before NZ trip). So, why was he standing in slips? It is important for captain to be aggressive and controlling the urge of the players than to be "cool".

Posted by Selfishkar on (February 6, 2014, 12:02 GMT)

ISHANT Sharma gave away 15 runs with his first over in the second new ball. No pace bowler in the hitory of cricket has take 150 test wickets at average worse than 38 by Ishant. Yet, Gavaskar thought he was pick of India bowlers on day one.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 12:01 GMT)

Indian cricket fans are totally hypnotized by IPL fever. They are excited when India wins and they give every bit of credit to Dhoni. But in my opinion, Dhoni has been the worst as captain. He many times covers his lacks by his aggressive cameo batting. His bowling perferrences on the field are totally insane, though those work sometimes and fans take it as a mysterious move by Dhoni, which only he understands. Dhone be responsible for all this happening with cricket in India.

Posted by ab_cricket on (February 6, 2014, 11:35 GMT)

Its time to replace dhoni as captain. His lack of experience of playing competitive first class game (Ranjhi Throphy here) shows every time India is under pressure when bowling. He starts playing the waiting game. As in this test right after williamson's wicket he should have attacked both the batsman but he threw the ball to Rohit Sharma coz the ball was 75 overs old. Someone has to explain him that there is always a chance of a wicket in cricket. Its become mundane seeing Dhoni captaining like this. Need another captain who believes that test match can be won from anywhere. He used to be a good limited overs captain but his abilities to lead a test team is limited.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 11:34 GMT)

Why Ishant Sharma was preferred over Ishwar Pandey at all. Pandey took 3 wickets still could not make it to the 11. One guy will sit on bench for a trip and then he will be dropped.

Posted by barryrichardsfan on (February 6, 2014, 11:32 GMT)

The great Ishant Sharma is overjoyed by the fact that he had a decent first spell. But having played 50 test matches(GOD SAVE THE WORLD), he should be capable of adjusting to easing out conditions in 2nd 3rd sessions. But he has failed to learn and is still being persisted with, can't even accept the obvious deficiencies. He is pretty content with the day's effort. That sums it up pretty well.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 11:13 GMT)

Fact, test matches are seldom won by teams batting 4th. Why on Gods name would you win the toss and bowl first. Why did Ind succeed in SA, because they batted 1st. Despite the pitch, conditions blah blah, I mean unless there are indications of rain for the complete day, win the toss and you Bat first. You learn to do that from gully cricket. The fact that Dhoni lives on as captain or rather is still the most secured captain in world sport is baffling to me. If your batsman are your strength, then bat first, set up a big total and ask your bowlers to attack. More than the bowlers, you are putting your strenghts i.e your batsman under pressure all the time. Yes, they bowled bad today but in general too Dhoni can never take the credit of making a decent bowler out of someone because he is just not a bowler's captain. Good test match captains are always those who go for wickets and not contain runs. And people like Jadeja and Ashwin,well, NZ has shown us enough on how to handle these me.

Posted by fkhawaja on (February 6, 2014, 11:12 GMT)

india one of the big three is being given a good workout and possible defeat. it is karma or whatever.

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 10:53 GMT)

Ridiculous on ishant to come out out and say he is happy with his bowling performance. can't believe how dhoni and selectors still backing him and giving him so many chances. just looks like there is no better resource to replace ishant!! is that soo? Amazing? On a testing wicket poor blowing performance and still say he is happy...god save indian cricket!!

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 10:52 GMT)

Why was Virat Kohli bowling after lunch? Was that not lowering intensity??

Posted by DingDong420 on (February 6, 2014, 10:37 GMT)

India needs Dhoni to move aside as Captain, Ishant shouldn't be let near a test team until he has displayed an aptitude to learn

Posted by   on (February 6, 2014, 10:36 GMT)

Lets face the fact!! New Zealand batsmen ( BM & KW) were too good for the mediocre Indian bowling attack. And BM with CA is still in the middle. Now Indian batsmen have their task cut out since they will have to play from now onwards for not to win but for not to lose!! Best of luck to them.

Posted by sundersingh on (February 6, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

Ishant not denied intensity he is praising his captain....

Posted by ThePacifist10 on (February 6, 2014, 10:30 GMT)

WHAT? Giving 60 runs in 10 overs after lunch is containment, Ishant? That does it. Brendon, as an Indian fan, I hope you smack Ishant for 100 more runs. That will eventually shut him up.

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