New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 3rd day February 8, 2014

Shami and Jadeja wake India up

Under pressure for much of this tour, India were roused by a sparks of brilliance from two individuals who ambushed New Zealand in their second innings

The New Zealand nightmare was becoming longer and longer for India. Someone had to pinch them hard and rouse them up from this slumber where nothing was going right. Four defeats in the ODIs followed by a 301-run deficit in the first Test is enough to sap confidence. They had bowled 121.4 overs to New Zealand at Eden Park and then batted less than half that number. On the third morning, they lost their last six wickets in 16 overs.

Usually, a shell-shocked unit turns up to go through the motions in such a scenario, follow-on or not. New Zealand could have bashed a quick 200 or 250, set India an impossible target, and unleashed their four fast bowlers again. Was there a way out of this for India?

Cricket is a team game, but teams often need extraordinary individual sparks to come together in seemingly hopeless circumstances. Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja answered that call for India.

The pair had gone for a combined 2 for 215 in the first innings, but in the second they were so intense that New Zealand were forced to live the nightmare, slumping to 25 for 5 in startlingly quick time. To remain hopeful in dire circumstances requires optimism, but to back that up by playing with so much conviction takes immense self-belief.

From the first ball of the second innings, Shami went at New Zealand with all he had, sprinting in and hurling down one testing delivery after another. His run-up of long strides is usually energetic but throughout his spell of 10-1-30-3, Shami was like a high-power locomotive that had been unhinged from its load of wagons.

Shami seemed like making something happen almost every ball. No other Indian fast bowler - not even a New Zealand one - appeared so menacing through an entire spell, and that too an extended one. His length was fuller, but he did not overpitch, making it hard for batsmen to come forward.

Shami struck in each of his first two overs, and New Zealand were unable to recover from that shock. His delivery to trap Hamish Rutherford lbw for a golden duck was a peach - fast, pitched-up, moving in. Peter Fulton played a poor shot in Shami's second over, but you could argue it was the bowler who had made the batsman play without moving his feet, having pegged him back with a short at the body the previous delivery.

Shami could have had three wickets in three overs, including that of Ross Taylor for a golden duck, had an outside edge travelled to gully. He did add a third scalp, though, by bowling Corey Anderson soon after lunch with a skiddy delivery.

Zaheer Khan was impressed with Shami, saying his ability to strike in clusters placed him above merely good bowlers. "He is a great prospect for India and has had some brilliant performances," Zaheer said. "No doubt he is a match-winner. His quality to take wickets in bunches is what decides him from a good bowler to a really, really good bowler. Shami has got that quality, he has shown that quality in whatever little cricket he has played and with experience he is going to get better."

After the New Zealand openers, India had to deal with Kane Williamson, who had gone past fifty each time on this tour. India, however, found another individual spark to end this threat.

Jadeja had failed to perform his containing role in the first innings, conceding 120 in 26 overs. He had fought with the bat, though, making an unbeaten 30 as the rest capitulated around him. Still, it was his energy in the field that made a vital impact. It is not easy to react so quickly at short midwicket, put in a dive and snap up a well-timed clip, but Jadeja did exactly that to dismiss Williamson.

What followed was inspirational. M Vijay had dropped Brendon McCullum in the last over before lunch, and New Zealand would have gone into the break with their two experienced men, McCullum and Taylor, still around. McCullum is faster than Jadeja, so for the batsman to be caught so far short of the crease while attempting a second run, shows how accurate Jadeja's ball-chase and throw was. Jadeja might have an innocuous presence, but he produces these moments so often that a captain will always have multiple uses for him.

India had let New Zealand escape from 30 for 3 in the first innings, but Shami and Jadeja made sure that no such turnaround occurred this time. The batsmen may or may not achieve the target of 407, but they ensured India had finally woken up in New Zealand.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jagannath on February 8, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    India needed Kumar in and one batsman less. Which batter? Good question!

  • uncle bob on February 8, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    I cant believe how much less knowledgeable some of the experienced indian fans are. If Shami is bowling good that doesn't mean captain should bowl him for long spells. The guy will be tired and then of no good use unless he is provided with timely break. Dhoni was doing that. Giving shami a break to recoup.

  • Mudassar on February 8, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    Still anybody's game... Batters need to really do well and I believe with three triple hundreds in first class cricket and a brilliant fielding performance in this test must have given Jadeja a lot of confidence. I believe he should bat higher up the order because once set, it is also difficult to get him out. Remember, he was also unbeaten in the First innings. Vitally important is the fact that Kohli and Pujara need to do it mainly...

  • Dhairy on February 8, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    Poojara is very good at close in fielder. not much faster to stop runs like Jadeja. Why we don't try him as a slip fielder?

    Kohli is good slip fielder of spin bowling. Why he is not doing job for fasters?

    Rahane & Jadeja are great fielders ever India had. Both produce wickets by their fielding (catching / runouts).

    Vijay or Dhawan must not be their at slip.

  • Sanjay on February 8, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    @AvidCricFan: I couldn't agree more, you've summarised very well.

  • Dhairy on February 8, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    Now people have to understand that Z khan is past. in first inning he took 2 wickets - both of bad balls going down to leg. in second inning he had taken nothing. I tnow his status is 2/23. but both wickets he took was wickets produced by fielders. So this type of wickets can taken by any bowler. He is not fast in field. not scoring many runs. can't stay at wickets for a long time. not much iconomical bowler. 120-125 can't produce anything. so what is he doing in team? He can play mentor role by siting on bench.

  • Dummy4 on February 8, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    Awesome, finally Shami is bowling to his potential on this tour. Tbh I think he's got some pretty bad instructions from bowling coaches about "bowling areas". He's not a back-of-a-length bowler. His natural length should be pitching right up and swinging it. And we saw the difference today.

    I still think Ishant doesn't deserve to be in the team, and Zak is past his prime. I think Pandey would be a good choice for the next game (no matter what happens in this Test), and for the future we need to look again at Umesh Yadav, because I'm not sure what he's done wrong. Also, I think we need to sack our bowling coach.

  • Ashok on February 8, 2014, 18:29 GMT

    Real Challenge for the Indian barring is to chase the remaining 315 runs over 2 days to win the first Test abroad! Pujar has been fed a consistent range of balls outside the off stump by the 3 LH seamers- Boult, Anderson & Wagner. He has to keep on leaving them. They are all expecting Pujara to go down as in the first innings! After several overs of this "Rubbish wide outside off stump" the 3 seamers will tire themselves. Then go after them in session 3 of Day 4. The policy should be to "Tire them & then Tear Them"! This worked with Steyn, Morkel & Philander very well. Why not against the NZ bowlers who are much slower around 135 KPH of less. Sodhi's leg spinners are the ones to watch on a pitch with worn patches. A planned discipline approach with patience will help India carry over the finish line.Please do not squander this golden chance of winning the first Test match overseas under Dhoni's leadership, after his 0-10 record. It might be his only winning Test abroad! Good luck guys

  • Jay on February 8, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    That spell by Shami and the rest of the Indian bowlers has shown WHY India can be a good bowling unit. It'was heartening to see NZ humbled as they should have been the entire series. This is what happens when you bowl with passion and intensity. Dhoni's attacking fields also helped. It was a different Indian team and it was awesome. India can now look to draw this game if not win it thanks to their wonderful bowling effort. Day 4 is the most crucial of this test match.

  • Nilesh on February 8, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    India's slip catching needs a lot of improvement. I think if the slip catching can improve and the slip fielders back up the bowlers, the bowling attack will be more confident and potent. I am not sure Murali Vijay deserves to be in the slip cordon. Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and maybe Pujara or Kohli need to form the slip cordon especially in the first 10-15 overs after the new ball is available and they need to be groomed for this role over the next 2-3 series'. They should take tips from Dravid who did a wonderful job in the slips.

    India may have woken up although I still think NZ are the favorites to win from the current match situation. I think one of the items in India's favor is that there are still upto 180 overs left in the match. If India's batsmen can be patient especially through the first hour of play, there is a small chance that the match may go for a close finish.

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