New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington

India seek end to winless streak

The Preview by Sidharth Monga

February 13, 2014

Comments: 151 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

February 14-18, 2014
Start time 1100 local (2200 GMT, previous day)


Hamish Rutherford gets off his toes, New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Auckland, 1st day, February 6, 2014
Since his debut hundred, Hamish Rutherford has scored just one fifty in 10 Tests © Getty Images
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Big Picture

Two of India's last three Tests have been bona fide classics. On both occasions, they had victory snatched from their grasp by the old boys of Affies, a high school in Pretoria. A bit of luck here, a bit of magic there, and India might have registered two of their more famous Test wins. Instead they have question marks against them away from home. They have been much better than they were on their last miserable leg of cricket outside Asia - in England and in Australia - but the numbers are stacking up. At some point, players will start doubting themselves, they will begin to wonder just what it will take to win away from home; they have set South Africa a target of more than 450 yet couldn't close, they have bowled New Zealand out for 105 yet lost. They will wonder if they have forgotten how to win and if they don't at Basin Reserve, India will have put together, at 11 international matches, their joint-longest winless streak since West Indies came looking for revenge for their World Cup final defeat in 1983.

New Zealand are looking at a happier streak. All through this series they have threatened to squander winning positions, but have somehow got stuck in towards the end to keep winning. In their Test history, they have won four Tests in a row only once, but that included two wins against Zimbabwe in 2005. Having won the last two of the series against West Indies, and then in Auckland last week, New Zealand are on the cusp of achieving something memorable. There are already murmurs comparing this team to the three other consistently successful eras in New Zealand history: the days of Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe and Stephen Fleming.

If they are to win the four in a row, New Zealand will have to do it without one of their two best batsmen of the season: Ross Taylor will be away for the birth of his child. In all likelihood, though, they will have conditions to their liking again. The last time they played in Wellington, they rolled over West Indies on a green top. This time, too, it is difficult to tell the pitch from the square. Moreover, there has been rain during the week leading into the Test, so there will be moisture retained.

Form guide

New Zealand (last five completed matches, most recent first) WWWDD
India LLDWW

In the spotlight

The New Zealand openers have got a lifeline, but that rope must be getting shorter. Since his debut hundred, Hamish Rutherford has scored just one fifty in 10 Tests. The way he got out both times at Eden Park might also worry them.

The Indian quicks displayed their worst, and their rare best, at Eden Park, but they will need to watch against what happened in South Africa where they were so exhausted from their effort at Wanderers that the intensity was visibly down at Kingsmead.

Teams news

Two caps will be handed out by New Zealand. Tom Latham will debut in Taylor's absence, and they have also assessed that on this green pitch they will need an extra seamer so Jimmy Neesham will also get a taste of Test cricket. With Neesham, the batting order will look longer too.

New Zealand 1 Peter Fulton, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Tom Latham, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt.), 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Jimmy Neesham, 8 BJ Watling (wk), 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult

India are unlikely to change their XI. Even if the wicket is a carpet of grass, they won't want to play four quicks: the last time they did, MS Dhoni was banned for poor over-rate.

India 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Ajinkya Rahane, 7 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ishant Sharma

Pitch and conditions

Over to Brett Sipthorpe, the groundsman: "I don't expect they [India] will be too happy when they see that. It has had good pace and bounce in it this summer, and basically we are aiming for exactly what we had for the West Indies one. That was nice and bouncy, and had a little bit of nip around, which suits the seamers." On the eve of the match though, the grass appeared a little thinner. The weather forecast is good. There hasn't been any rain since Wednesday morning and we shouldn't have any disturbances during the match.

Stats and trivia

  • India have now lost more away Tests under Dhoni than any other captain. His win-loss ratio of 0.45, though, is much better than the captain he just went past, Mohammad Azharuddin. Rahul Dravid's 1.25 remains the best away win-loss ratio for an Indian captain.
  • Brendon McCullum is 91 short of becoming only the fourth New Zealander to 5000 Test runs.
  • In New Zealand's last three Tests, quick bowlers have taken 59 of the 60 wickets. Sodhi took the 60th, that of No. 11 Tino Best, in Hamilton.
  • Among bowlers that have taken 150 wickets for India, Ishant Sharma's strike-rate is better than six spinners, including three from the famous quartet, but his average is better than only Ravi Shastri. Also, his strike-rate is worst among the four quicks that have reached the landmark for India.

Quotes

"It is a new team, young players who have got five-six matches under their belt. Of course, It takes a bit of time. Last Test we played, we fought back really nicely and even in the last innings, we batted really nicely. There are a lot of positives to take from the last match and it is building our confidence and our strength."
Shikhar Dhawan is not ruling out India's chances in the second Test

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by thozar on (February 14, 2014, 5:31 GMT)

@Nampally, India did pretty well with 2 bowlers picking up all the wickets, didn't they? NZ, with their 5 medium-pacemen, on the other hand, have only picked up only 2 wickets in 27 overs now. I say we didn't make such a bad decision for this test. I do expect a few changes though. Vijay should not be given too many chances now and should be told in no uncertain terms that India needs his runs or he packs his bags. He is a good batsmen and should provide an ideal foil to the attacking Dhawan but he needs time in the middle. Otherwise, team looks good. Ashwin might now struggle to break into the XI considering the next series is in England where we won't need 2 spinners. Expecting India to win this test big and set themselves up for a nice summer in England:-)

Posted by thozar on (February 14, 2014, 5:26 GMT)

@t20cric, Steyn is a left-hand bowler? Really? Last time, I checked he was a right-hander unless he suddenly became a left-hand bowler.

The bowlers you mention are all good but they have been around for a while and mostly bowl in pace-friendly conditions. Look at the way Shami took apart WI in India and the NZ batsmen here. He bowled brilliantly in SA too and was unlucky to get more wickets.

Amir who? The guy who was banned? let him first get out of the ban and start playing cricket. We will see then.

All those who are laughing at India now are in for a rude awakening when India become the #1 team in tests in a year. Look at the way Dhawan is batting. Pure class. He was out of touch for a test or two in SA and people started questioning his ability. What do they say about form and class? With Ishant back in form (albeit after a very long time), India is going to become very hard to beat.

Posted by thozar on (February 14, 2014, 4:52 GMT)

@BobCo, WC is different. It is the most important tournament in the world and teams bring their 'A' game to it. Bilateral series are but preparations (like appetizers) for the bigger tournaments (entrees). To win a world cup, you need consistency and that is what India had to win the cup. That Indian team must have been the best ever ODI XI, so let's not even go there.

You say Cummins and Pattinson are streets ahead of Shami. Surely, you have some thing to substantiate that statement unless it is just an opinion?

@Ashlin Wilson, perhaps you may have changed your opinion about the Indian team after the way India bowled and are now batting in this test? The way Ishant is bowling, if he carries this form to England, it is curtains for the weak England batsmen.

Posted by BobCo on (February 13, 2014, 22:33 GMT)

@Thozar, so does that mean India's world cup win was really just a lottery entry that came up lucky too? Guess we should just ignore that too then, huh?!! Ha! That is very funny!! :-) I doubt Dhoni agrees!!!

I 2nd Steve Harris on Shami v Cummins or Pattinson; when fit, both are streets better than Shami. I agree Team India's batting looks good -- in Pujara and Kohli, they have the makings of a world class spine. Sort out the openers -- I'm not totally convinced of either of the present incumbents -- and #5, and we should definitely see fewer overseas losses.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 21:46 GMT)

@thozar trent boult is better than shami. are you blind? your side has been comprehensively outplayed this whole tour by the number 8th ranked side in the world. going to thrash england and south africa. yep sure mate. face it, india struggle outside the subcontinent. open your other eye would ya!?

Posted by jahbert58 on (February 13, 2014, 21:39 GMT)

@ MENSAN It's not that hard to figure out why India is loosing away from home. Showing up but not finishing is the problem. Jadeja have made 2 first class triple centuries so he is a batman. No reason why India need 8 bats in a line up. drop Rahane and play the extra seamer more balance attack the problem is not making big scores it is getting 20 wickets in a timely manner. Using Kohli and R.Sharma at the expense of another seamer does not cut it in test cricket...All the other top teams have 5 front line bowler TAKE NOTE INDIA....

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 21:24 GMT)

Nz will be far to good in this one. Unbeaten and they haven't won a toss yet. India will crumble like a pack of cards if they get put in on this greenie

Posted by t20cric on (February 13, 2014, 21:19 GMT)

@thozar: Your speaking too highly of your country's fast bowlers, if they were really as good as you say India would have been comfortably in no.1 of tests but right now they seem out of place at no.2. "Zaheer, along with MJ, is the best left arm paceman in the world." lol you do know that Steyn & co. are all left handers right? "Shami is easily the best young paceman in the world." That's also wrong coz Southee, Boult, Junaid & quite a few others are about the same age as Shami but better bowlers. Also lets not forgot that M. Amir is actually a bit younger than Shami & if he was playing at this time it would make no sense at all to make such a comment.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 21:06 GMT)

@linguboy If you go by pure common sense, then what you said is correct. But knowing Dhoni, he wudnt drop Rohit. Plus vijay is no longer a csk player. So, dhoni don't need to pick vijay. Whatever may be the case,we have to pick 4 pacers otherwise we can forget about winning this match.

Also, Duncan fletcher must be sacked immediately.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 21:05 GMT)

@thorza - Trent Boult is the best young fast bowler in the world - he is only 8 months older than Shami is, and was in the top 5 test wicket takers last year.

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