India in New Zealand 2013-14 February 19, 2014

A series lost from winning positions

India might have been winless in New Zealand but their young side created several winning positions. They have too much talent for results not to go their way sooner rather than later
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India go back from New Zealand with a 40-run loss in Auckland and a disappointing draw in Wellington. While MS Dhoni spoke at length about the improvements he had seen in his side - and there were plenty of positives - with a bit more application and luck India could have taken the series 2-0.

Being optimistic is the way to go, but you were also left with the feeling that the management's expectations from the young side might not have been sky high. However, considering the positions they built for themselves, India should feel disappointed for not winning at all, especially when they won the toss each time on pitches that lost bite after the first couple of sessions.

India needed 185 to win with eight wickets remaining in Auckland. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli had stunned New Zealand with an aggressive century partnership. Then Kohli went after Neil Wagner, lost his wicket and India eventually fell short by not too many. In Wellington, Kohli dropped Brendon McCullum on 9, and India could do nothing as the New Zealand captain converted a 246-run deficit into a 434-run lead.

The world can debate whether Dhoni should have had one or many slips, or placed Kohli five inches back at short mid-on, where he put McCullum down. McCullum himself had just one slip for large parts of India's second innings, and had no intention of pushing for a win given his belated declaration, but that will not matter to a world that concluded long ago that Dhoni is defensive and McCullum is aggressive.

In time, when the rush for finding causes subsides, history will record that McCullum played one of the great innings in Test cricket, with worthy support acts from BJ Watling and Jimmy Neesham. However, the fact remains, as Dhoni admitted, that India were unable to close out the match. More so in Wellington, and to a lesser extent in Auckland.

Through the series, Dhoni spoke about the need for his batsmen to capitalise when they were in. Barring the first-innings meltdown in Auckland, India posted 421, 438 and 166 for 3. There has never been any doubt about the potential of this top six, and in South Africa that potential had been evident in difficult conditions. In New Zealand, they showed that the potential is more likely to be fulfilled than wasted.

Dhawan's successive knocks of 98 and 115 have to be India's biggest individual gains from this series. He has shown the willingness and the ability to respect the conditions and the bowlers. Among the top six, only Rohit Sharma is without a big innings on either of these tours, although he did help Kohli bat time for the draw in Wellington. Before South Africa, India would have gladly taken five out of six.

It was refreshing to see Dhoni make crucial contributions with the bat in both Tests. He played on for 39 after rattling New Zealand in Auckland, but the 68 in Wellington once again showed how much he can hurt sides in Tests. Ajinkya Rahane's maiden hundred was almost flawless but it was Dhoni's assault on Wagner that turned the momentum India's way.

India's fast bowlers are not usually recipients of praise, but how quickly they came back from the poor display in the first innings in Auckland. Their intensity was a sight to watch as they rolled New Zealand for 105 in the second innings.

They did the job for Dhoni on a helpful day-one surface in Wellington too, but their second innings effort was gargantuan. It is perhaps possible to forget in this modern age that bowlers are still humans. For a 35-year old to have to deliver 51 overs in one innings must border on physical and mental torture. And for them to be full of purpose, and for him to zoom in with the third new ball as if he was starting a fresh innings was incredible. After the highs and lows of South Africa, and the surprising ineptness of the first innings at Eden Park, Zaheer Khan told us he is not just an on-field bowling coach yet.

For once, Ishant Sharma bowled like a man who has played 50-plus Tests, barring large parts of the Auckland first innings. In time Mohammed Shami will hopefully realise it pays to use some discretion while going flat out. And India already know they cannot keep dropping top opposition batsmen. Kane Williamson made them pay in Auckland, and McCullum in Wellington.

On the whole, it was the first innings with ball and bat in Auckland that cost India the series. They had more than their share of chances and sooner rather than later they are bound to take their share of the spoils as well. They have too much collective and individual promise not to. But New Zealand 2014 is the one that got away.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 23, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Dhoni is repsonsible in a large way in India not able to win from winning positions. One thing to note is Dhoni includs Jadeja as a frontline spinner. There was a time when Kumble and Bhajji were hand full even in overseas conditions. But Dhoni does not trust his spinners at all. One fact to note is that Pragyan Ojha has played 24 tests and all in sub-continent. But Dhoni somehow forgets Ojha when it comes to playing tests outside subcontinent. Ojha certainly deserves a chance.

    The thing here is Dhoni is doing nothing to provide India a long term spinner who can be a match winner. Having a match winning spinner is the need of the hour for India.

  • srinivasulu.adiraju on February 23, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    I think, with all respect, Ian lost his mind. He always remember a team worst patch to comment on captain. He is praising AUS captain now. But I suppose he forgot that this same captain was present when AUS lost to Same England team just few months ago and the margin was 3-1! India performance was not that bad in New Zealand tests. We had first test under control when almost 4 decisions were against Batsmen while chasing. Result lost by 40 odd runs. In second test, it was a different issue. We were able to all out a team under 250 first time. This is good point. But what were anyone supposed to expect from home team. The resistance showed by home team is a good. Good courage showed and result is draw but not lost test for India. The result is better than AUS losing good controlled test to INDIA in 2001 in KOLKATA. Will he criticize STEVE for that loss? Will he do same comment on Clarke if he goes on to loose test series in SA?

  • toucheandsuch on February 22, 2014, 17:06 GMT

    For those who did not notice, Nathan Lyon just took 5 wickets in a first innings of a test in SA. Compare that with the whining we hear about how Ashwin & Jadeja found it tough to get turn and wickets in SA. I agree with Ganguly views that Ojha must be in a test XI. I hate to compare across eras but I can bet that Bedi, Prasanna & Chandra or Venkat would have not allowed SA or NZ to get more than 250 in their 2nd innings. Yes, they were not good fielders or batsmen but they did their main job - taking wickets. I feel that the ODI influence is skewing selection towards better fielders. I would rather give up 20 runs in the field to get a wicket or two. Patil & company need to sit back and think hard!

  • on February 22, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    I fail to understand why there is all this talk about lost chances and defensive captain. The way I see it, in overseas tests, India's bowling attack has rarely been consistent across two innings of a test match and probably not at all across a full series. What India really needs is a decent wicket taking attacking spinner, not the part timers Jadeja and Ashwin, if they really want to convert the good positions in overseas test into winning matches.

  • heartbreakerz on February 22, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    poor article... the bottomline is that the #2 ranked indian side failed to win a single game against the #8 ranked NZ....n they havent won a single overseas match in the last 3 yrs.....but still after reading this article it seems that indians are quite happy with their "positives"

  • on February 21, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Firstly Team India should take steps without any hesitation to pick or omit players based on their current form. For example Pandy should have been included in the place of Jadeja as the former proved his worth in the two day match. Knowing fully well Zakir Khan's age and his form, why should we pick up him. With him we lost and with any younger guy let us lface the defeat and atleast the young new comer would gain some good experience or might be a match winner.

  • gadfly on February 20, 2014, 19:48 GMT

    Dhoni's captaincy has been quite mediocre and has cost us vital overseas wins going back to SA in 2010. It is quite apparent that he not only lacks imagination but also the killer instinct to snuff out the opposition when they are down. Suffice it to say that a certain Michael Clarke would have cashed in on these opportunities - with the same set of resources mind you! The only concession I am willing to give Dhoni is that the bowlers and batsmen have been culpable too. The brand of unprofessional cricket on display not only makes me angry, it leaves me disgusted. In Auckland, runs were gifted away frivolously in both NZ innings - even though NZ folded for 105, with some more tight cricket, that should have around 75-80. If Jadeja is a proper batsman, why cant he bat like one? In both innings, India would have been better served if he had applied himself than taking the high risk approach. A few more runs by the tail in the 1st dig and runs saved - the outcome could have been different

  • navneethp on February 20, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    Need Pankaj Singh in the team. He has the accuracy...he has decent pace consistent @ 132-134. Has taken truckloads of wickets on dead pitches in Ranji Circuit...what more does that guy need to do to get selected

  • Amit_13 on February 20, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    Agree with you there mate... the second spell alone is challenging enough in low temperatures or when even 1% less fit. The second new ball can be a hard act to conjure up at that age. 51 overs is unheard of. Quite simply - its 5 ODIs in less than 3 days?

    The other positives remain. I am not the biggest ZK fan but he can't be faulted for commitment after 51overs. This has gone similar to the Ashes in England. Series lost in key moments. One move here or there and it would have been quite a different story.

  • on February 20, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    You forget a few things in your one sided view, what about Kholi's century when the umpire missed the caught behind. India should have been in serious trouble at 4 down if it wasn't for the umpire. The Indian team overall got more umpire help than the NZ team, won every toss and still lost everything despite having the pick of conditions. The Indian tram was an abject failure in all forms and no one sided argument will convince the masses of what they saw.

  • on February 23, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Dhoni is repsonsible in a large way in India not able to win from winning positions. One thing to note is Dhoni includs Jadeja as a frontline spinner. There was a time when Kumble and Bhajji were hand full even in overseas conditions. But Dhoni does not trust his spinners at all. One fact to note is that Pragyan Ojha has played 24 tests and all in sub-continent. But Dhoni somehow forgets Ojha when it comes to playing tests outside subcontinent. Ojha certainly deserves a chance.

    The thing here is Dhoni is doing nothing to provide India a long term spinner who can be a match winner. Having a match winning spinner is the need of the hour for India.

  • srinivasulu.adiraju on February 23, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    I think, with all respect, Ian lost his mind. He always remember a team worst patch to comment on captain. He is praising AUS captain now. But I suppose he forgot that this same captain was present when AUS lost to Same England team just few months ago and the margin was 3-1! India performance was not that bad in New Zealand tests. We had first test under control when almost 4 decisions were against Batsmen while chasing. Result lost by 40 odd runs. In second test, it was a different issue. We were able to all out a team under 250 first time. This is good point. But what were anyone supposed to expect from home team. The resistance showed by home team is a good. Good courage showed and result is draw but not lost test for India. The result is better than AUS losing good controlled test to INDIA in 2001 in KOLKATA. Will he criticize STEVE for that loss? Will he do same comment on Clarke if he goes on to loose test series in SA?

  • toucheandsuch on February 22, 2014, 17:06 GMT

    For those who did not notice, Nathan Lyon just took 5 wickets in a first innings of a test in SA. Compare that with the whining we hear about how Ashwin & Jadeja found it tough to get turn and wickets in SA. I agree with Ganguly views that Ojha must be in a test XI. I hate to compare across eras but I can bet that Bedi, Prasanna & Chandra or Venkat would have not allowed SA or NZ to get more than 250 in their 2nd innings. Yes, they were not good fielders or batsmen but they did their main job - taking wickets. I feel that the ODI influence is skewing selection towards better fielders. I would rather give up 20 runs in the field to get a wicket or two. Patil & company need to sit back and think hard!

  • on February 22, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    I fail to understand why there is all this talk about lost chances and defensive captain. The way I see it, in overseas tests, India's bowling attack has rarely been consistent across two innings of a test match and probably not at all across a full series. What India really needs is a decent wicket taking attacking spinner, not the part timers Jadeja and Ashwin, if they really want to convert the good positions in overseas test into winning matches.

  • heartbreakerz on February 22, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    poor article... the bottomline is that the #2 ranked indian side failed to win a single game against the #8 ranked NZ....n they havent won a single overseas match in the last 3 yrs.....but still after reading this article it seems that indians are quite happy with their "positives"

  • on February 21, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Firstly Team India should take steps without any hesitation to pick or omit players based on their current form. For example Pandy should have been included in the place of Jadeja as the former proved his worth in the two day match. Knowing fully well Zakir Khan's age and his form, why should we pick up him. With him we lost and with any younger guy let us lface the defeat and atleast the young new comer would gain some good experience or might be a match winner.

  • gadfly on February 20, 2014, 19:48 GMT

    Dhoni's captaincy has been quite mediocre and has cost us vital overseas wins going back to SA in 2010. It is quite apparent that he not only lacks imagination but also the killer instinct to snuff out the opposition when they are down. Suffice it to say that a certain Michael Clarke would have cashed in on these opportunities - with the same set of resources mind you! The only concession I am willing to give Dhoni is that the bowlers and batsmen have been culpable too. The brand of unprofessional cricket on display not only makes me angry, it leaves me disgusted. In Auckland, runs were gifted away frivolously in both NZ innings - even though NZ folded for 105, with some more tight cricket, that should have around 75-80. If Jadeja is a proper batsman, why cant he bat like one? In both innings, India would have been better served if he had applied himself than taking the high risk approach. A few more runs by the tail in the 1st dig and runs saved - the outcome could have been different

  • navneethp on February 20, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    Need Pankaj Singh in the team. He has the accuracy...he has decent pace consistent @ 132-134. Has taken truckloads of wickets on dead pitches in Ranji Circuit...what more does that guy need to do to get selected

  • Amit_13 on February 20, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    Agree with you there mate... the second spell alone is challenging enough in low temperatures or when even 1% less fit. The second new ball can be a hard act to conjure up at that age. 51 overs is unheard of. Quite simply - its 5 ODIs in less than 3 days?

    The other positives remain. I am not the biggest ZK fan but he can't be faulted for commitment after 51overs. This has gone similar to the Ashes in England. Series lost in key moments. One move here or there and it would have been quite a different story.

  • on February 20, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    You forget a few things in your one sided view, what about Kholi's century when the umpire missed the caught behind. India should have been in serious trouble at 4 down if it wasn't for the umpire. The Indian team overall got more umpire help than the NZ team, won every toss and still lost everything despite having the pick of conditions. The Indian tram was an abject failure in all forms and no one sided argument will convince the masses of what they saw.

  • on February 20, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    I wonder why Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Parvinder Awana & Mohammed Shami cannot play in the same team? ... Politics?

    Do we not have a classy opener "or" A classy middle order batsman under 19 years of age? Only a youngster can adapt & play in all conditions over a period of time. Sachin became a great batsman because he faced Akram, Waqar & Imran at 16 years and very good English bowlers at age 19.

    While Pakistan & Sri Lanka are building almost different test & shorter format teams (only a few common players) ... India has the same / similar team in all formats (Very few changes)...We need to look at each & every position a build long term for a better test team.

  • StuL on February 20, 2014, 7:53 GMT

    I don't think you address one of the elephants in the room and that is that India won every single toss on tour- the kiwis didn't even get a call.

    The only time NZ had a say was when BMac and co failed to enforce the follow on in the 1st test (everyone in auckland knew it was perfect bowling conditions- but no auckland players were in the team).

    I love optimism and it should be applauded but don't go too far. The reality is that despite the pick of conditions there wasn't a win. The bowlers didn't knock the opposition out and the batsmen didn't out score them despite both having the friendlier conditions.

  • Thotful on February 20, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    I see these reports about Dhoni being excessively defensive and I wonder if he isn't aggressive but in the wrong way. He had set fairly innovative fields for McCullum throughout his innings - the short mid-on right next to the bowler comes to mind. And I have seen such tactics by Dhoni work really well, especially in T20 matches. It just so happens that this doesn't work in test matches, especially this one where McCullum was really determined to rein in his aggressive instincts. So the question to ask is whether, like batsmen and bowlers, test captaincy can be affected by too much ODI/T20 cricket for that seems more like to be what has happened to Dhoni.

  • on February 20, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    For those from Pak who ridicule India. I will definitely appreciate where Pakistan is better. Pakistan always has a stronger bowling than India and anytime I would say Pakistan have bowlers who could make the team World no: 1 many times. But why could not Pakistan become the top team in the World? This is because they perform inconsistently. With their team strength, Pakistan could have won the Champion's trophy but they lost all the matches. Pak had no business to lose test in Zimbabwe based on their strength. Also outsiders wonder what is wrong with Pakistan selections at times. Why Umar Akmal is not selected consistently? Even Mohsin Khan who made 1000 runs in 9 tests was dropped prematurely. Why?

  • on February 20, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    (Continued from last post) England worked hard to make Anderson a force as a bowler. And the same with Broad and Swann and also Panesar and so became a force. the ride of Anderson was not easy. Same is the case of how Australia's Johnson became a force. Steyn and Morkel grew in strength. This is the way bowling is built. What would have happened if Ponting or Graeme Smith were asked to win match with Ishant, Jadeja and not with McGrath, Warne or Steyn? Just spare a thought and see how the team can be strengthened by making a strong bowling department. Even having bowler like Kapil, Kumble or Zaheer at his peak makes a lot of difference.

  • on February 20, 2014, 7:24 GMT

    One thing I am finding is a lot is being said about Dhoni's captaincy. But certain things are being ignored here. if any team has to do well in foreign soil, mainly it must have a string attack. How is the bowling department strengthened? There have to be 2-3 bowlers who are experienced and other bowlers who are youthful and with promises. One thing we see about Indian side is bowlers just come and go. Irfan Pathan, Balaji, Pravee, Sreesanth, Munaf, Yadav etc. came in with promises. But they all could never sustain their places. As far Ishant he has never been consistent enough to be reckoned as a force. Zaheer is past his peak. Ashwin, Jadeja or Ojha - none of them also could be considered as force abroad. the question is what is Indian thinktank doing to have some bowlers who could sustain their place through years? Just look at how England, SA or Australia became great sides. (Continued next post.)

  • on February 20, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    from a new zealand black caps fan, A series won from losing positions. our highest team and individual scores against a team ranked 7 places above us

  • BigDataIsAHoax on February 20, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    As an Indian cricket fan, I don't care if the opposition captain is defensive. I want my captain to be aggressive! It is as simple as that! The author is obviously trying to rectify Dhoni's test captain image here under the instructions of we know who...

  • Batmanian on February 20, 2014, 4:17 GMT

    Totally agree with this analysis. India were close. But had NZ lost 2-0 or 1-0, or drawn 1-1, they would have really been the ones to trash the huge series-seizing position they put together early in Auckland. They were right to go for the draw at Wellington; their first innings showed pathetic application, and the subsequent play showed how little there actually was in the pitch for the bowlers.

    No idea why so many India fans don't rate Dhoni as a captain - he may be a mad genius, but he is a genius. He's a captain for winners, not the traditional apologetic Indian touring outfits, and the pieces just have to fall in place for a talented team (that is, some decent pacemen need to displace the Subcontinental sludge on offer now - maybe Dhoni does need less say as a selector).

  • Wahid59 on February 20, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    Mr. Purohit: the way you phrased the line 'but that will not matter to a world that concluded long ago that Dhoni is defensive and McCullum is aggressive.' it is evident that you don't subscribe to the notion. I'd not comment on McCullum's aggressiveness (which he definitely is not), but how could you defend Dhoni! Not only for this series or the series before or----; his sole strategy was playing a waiting game and look for opponents making mistakes, rather than trying to make things happen. He is as unimaginative and defensive a captain as it comes. Remember his not going for a win in last WI tour and setting 600+ score for NZ to win in last series immediately comes to mind. I don't think you could come up with one instance where Dhoni's decisions help India win a test, which they otherwise were not supposed to win.

  • Maui3 on February 20, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    Good article, but deceiving title. India was in winning position in the second test but not in the first. At 220 for 2, requiring 400 to win, 8 out of 10 teams will end up on losing side. Just check the history. What was special about the first test is how India fought back from hopeless position after the first innings. Both these tests were about how team bounced back from hopeless positions. I agree with Dhoni, there are lot of positives from last 2 series, especially in batting for India. If Indian batsman can keep it up in England and Australia, the next 8 to 10 years could be a repeat of 2001 to 2010.

  • CurrentPresident on February 20, 2014, 0:59 GMT

    I would love to see a bowler or an allrounder captain India in tests. It improves the dynamics and the approach of the whole team - makes it more positive.

    Other than Kapil Dev and Kumble for a brief while, we haven't seen this. Kumble, in my opinion, should have been the Indian captain earlier and longer than he eventually was.

  • thozar on February 19, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    Excellent article. I am going to frame this in gold.

    "India might have been winless in New Zealand but their young side created several winning positions. They have too much talent for results not to go their way sooner rather than later"

    We have the best batting talent by far. We are a little behind in the bowling but that is already changing. Ishant showed that he could be a terrifying prospect although he is inconsistent. Once he adds consistency to his armory, then you will have opposition batsmen screaming as they do now facing Mitchell Johnson. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are 2 other bright prospects who have the potential to lay waste to entire batting line-ups on their own. I think this England tour is coming at the right time. We are a team on the rise and England is clearly on the wane, if not already. When we win in England, a lot of these bashers are gonna go silent for a while.

  • on February 19, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    Dhoni as a captain is one of the main reasons India has done so poor this series. Its time for Virat to take the reigns.

  • IndianSRTfan on February 19, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    @Hassan Abbas: It is quite funny to see Pak, SL fans measuring their team's success relative to India's. Measure of any success needs to be absolute, i.e. 'We won a test series/World Cup/ XYZ trophy/a tight knock-out match, against a tough opposition, hence our team is good'

    When your analysis starts becoming relative to another team, it's time to open your eyes and see your team for what it is and not what you want to believe it to be.

    Pakistan plays in UAE, through no other nation's fault,where conditions are very very similar to those in Pakistan. So stop bragging about it as if you play all your cricket in SA or Australia. Check Pakistan's recent pathetic away record without relying on glorious past and then we'll see. No significant (WC/CT) win in 22 years, an ordinary away test record in same time period, a solitary T20 title, and some meaningless ODI wins, is what you have and you want us to stand up and look to your team in awe? Sorry

  • IndianSRTfan on February 19, 2014, 18:37 GMT

    A well balanced article. Fans are expected to be impatient after many overseas failures but Cricket experts and journalists need to be more thorough in their analysis.

    Frankly I'm bamboozled by these knee-jerk reactions. Especially from senior journalists and ex-players who should know better. Yes India's recent overseas test record stands now at 10-0 but we need to make a distinction between the 8-0 whitewash and the SA-NZ tours. Is it fair to place the burden of 8-0 on the heads of Pujara, Rahane, Dhawan, Rohit, Vijay and Kohli who weren't in the team then?

    This team is only responsible for a thrilling draw, a draw courtesy of a brilliant 300 on a flat pitch, a thrilling chase turned into a narrow loss, and one loss.

    This team is capable of getting into winning positions as we saw in Jo'burg, Auckland, & Wellington. In all these matches individual brilliance from Faf, AB, BMac and pitches that went flat that denied us wins. With more experience, I'm sure we will see more wins.

  • sidh78 on February 19, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    Dear indian team bashers who call india flat track bullies please note the record of india on fast bouncy seaming tracks out side SC 1.india won 2 WC in 1983(ODI)&2007(T20)in eng & SA respe. 2.finalist in 2003 WC in SA 3.won CT this year 2013 in eng without loosing a single match(including warm up matches) 4.won CB series in aus defeating strong aus team having hayden ponting symond in 2008 in straight 2 finals 5.won Nest West trophy in eng in 2001 6.won U-19 WC in aus in 2013. 7.won test series in eng,NZ,WI 8.Draw test series in SA in 2011(1-1).nearly won that series but kallis inning save SA from defeat but india totally dominate that draw test match 9.nearly draw the test series in aus 2-2 in 2008 if umpiring in that series was not poor. 10.won tri series in WI in 2013. 11.india A team played very well in SA in 2013. Also india won many series & tournaments SL Ban. So if india is flat track bullies how can india have such good records on fast bouncy seaming pitches.

  • on February 19, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    India, when they think about all rounders, they can win so many matches. In place Vijay or Rohit Sharma (they are not consistent) their role Baba Aparajith, Parvez Razool & Rishi Dhawan can do same with bat and also with ball they can perform well. As a fifth bowler, may be they can break some crucial partnership. What is the benefit if they keep Vijay and Rohit Sharma.

  • toucheandsuch on February 19, 2014, 17:58 GMT

    My Analysis: Dhawan showed mind over matter, Vijay too stiff while batting and in the slips, Pujara too defensive, Virat terrific in patches, Rohit why does he have the hand dog look while batting? He was a big disappointment. Rahane old style khadoos Mumbai batsman you can rely on. Dhoni needs to learn from McCullum that you can will yourself to bat long periods for the team. Jadeja disappointment with bat & ball. Zaheer brought the ball back into a rightie only once in 2 tests. I think he should retire.He is also blocking people like Bhuvi & Umesh. What use is experience if you can't break huge stands 2 series in a row? Ishant bowled well but can't produce enough magic balls like Southee did to Pujara. Shami was very good but unlucky. I would like to see Pujara as test captain and Virat for ODI & T20. Also, Ashwin needs to get a chance up the order and I suspect he will do far better than Vijay or Rohit.

  • NelaturiShyam on February 19, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    Quote from the article: "Among the top six, only Rohit Sharma is without a big innings on either of these tours, although he did help Kohli bat time for the draw in Wellington". Rohit Sharma is not a test class batsman. What we saw from him in NZ is very much below mediocre. He is very vulnerable to fast bowling and his technique is flawed. Likewise, Murali Vijay is also a mere passenger in the team.Whatever said and done Gautham is a much better opening batsman. Revamp the team by dropping all the passengers.

  • HipHipHurray on February 19, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    Why is no one questioning the role of the coach? Why didn't duncan fletcher protest when wagner was bowling so many no balls? he could have drawn match refree's attention to the fact? why didn't fletcher point out to dhoni that he and his slips stand a couple of feet too deep? what was his role in the team selection? what is he getting paid for?

  • NCP1 on February 19, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    The current Indian team is young and maturing but clearly MSD is not the right Test Captain, he is not the best test player but has done well given the situation. He was given the job based on short format wins (20/20 and ODI in AUS) which were not necessarily due to his captaincy but few good performances from the likes of Sehwag, Gauti, Yuvi, Bhaji, Sachin, Irfan ( all gone), Kohli etc. He just happens to be the best qualified today but he knows he will never be regarded much for test captaincy unless he learns fast and improve the results. Even his team selections are as if he is going to play short format. Jadeja vs Ashwin for test? Rahane at #6?

  • wolf777 on February 19, 2014, 16:51 GMT

    The fact that India was chasing 400+ runs was a problem itself. After New Zealand were 3 for 30, they dug in and Indian bowling attack eventually got tired as India went with only 3 fast bowlers and one spinner attack. A 200+ runs partnership and a 100+ runs partnership meant India would be chasing a big total. Ishant Sharma took 6 wickets alright; but, for that he toiled almost 34 overs conceded 134 runs. Compare that to Mitchell Johnson who got 7 for 68 in only 17 overs - bowled exactly half the overs and conceded half the runs compare to Ishant Sharma. India took over 120 overs to get NZ all out. Clearly Indian needed help in bowling department. Well, what did Dhoni do in the next Test. He again went in with the same bowling combination. McCullum was able to dig in and wear out Indian bowlers. Rest is the history now!

  • sss_m19 on February 19, 2014, 15:26 GMT

    When india lost 8-0, people called to replace the veterans which is right, they were ready to lose with young guns..but now when you know they are young and are loosing..you immediately want to replace them..then when will they learn..we have to be patient..atleast they are improving..from white wash , now they have improved to make draws..hopefully, their next step will be away wins from draws..lets wish them luck and support our team..eng or aus might be the last series for dhoni..he too would like to go on high..

  • jaguar7777 on February 19, 2014, 15:04 GMT

    it is easy to blame someone for the series loss in newzealand,but i think dhoni is responsible in more than one way.overseas conditions require 4 seamers to win test matches, and he did not use that option for fear of weakening the batting.he positions himself and the slip fielders too deep as if our bowlers are bowling at 100 mph.he is a good ond day skipper but a poor test match one. dravid recommends one more chance for him,i thing it is a poor recommendation and definitely detrimental to india's cause.indians have the special ability to make ordinary players look great and lack the killer instinct.batting looks fine but bowling and leadership needs vast improvement to suceed overseas.i hope the people concerned have enough guts to sack dhoni from leading our test team and let him concentrate on defending the next worldcup and hopefully win the t20 too

  • fair_paly_1 on February 19, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    This article is all about what could have happened IF... But isn't that what happens in any game and any series? There is nothing different here other than clutching at straws.

    The unimaginable thing for me, that hasn't been mentioned in the article, is to play a match with 3 specialist bowlers only. What if one had broken down after bowling excessive overs? I feel sorry for the bowlers for the extra exertion they were put into. Other than India, when was the last time a team went into a test match with 3 specialist bowlers only?

  • Nampally on February 19, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    Mr. Purohit, while I agree with you that this Indian team is talented & potential winners, it is the lack of leadership that has pulled a 2-0 series win into 1-0 Loss! In bowling Ishant, Shami & ZAK have all risen to the occasion on different occasions to get the job done. But there was a lack of killer instinct in the team. There were many occasions when the team was way up like having NZ down 26 for 5 or 94 for 5. India were unable to put a put a strangle hold to finish off the team for some thing like 50 or 150 resptly. on either occasion. Instead the team crossed 125 & 600 on these 2 occasions. If you analyse the cases closely, a 4th specialist bowler was missing + a tale of missed catches killed the team. It is unimaginative to have Ishant, ZAK & Shami bowl >50 overs in one innings each & fielding side not taking the catches! Secondly Dhoni is insane in playing just 3 specialist bowlers. Dhoni's field placing & leadership was poor at best & was critical factor in both Tests.

  • Hardy1 on February 19, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    Ishant & Zak have bowled well but not when it's counted & it almost feels as if these moments have been isolated from each other. Again, I feel that a fourth pacer is a pre-requisite for India to win overseas Tests.

  • Hardy1 on February 19, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    Clearly overall the Indian batting has been a big positive & Rohit has shown improvement over his SA tour to be fair. Even Jadeja finally did his batting talent a bit of justice towards the end of this NZ tour, but the big problem in overseas Tests is that India really need a bowling all rounder (Irfan, Rishi Dhawan, even Abhishek Nayar) or just a plain fifth bowler 'cos let's face it, conceding massive scores to NZ & letting a batting team even as good as SA almost chase down 460 shows quite clearly that the bowling is where the problem lies. I'm amazed that Umesh Yadav hasn't been brought back into the team because he was the leader of the attack when he was forced out due to injury (I think the Ahmedabad Test against England in 2012 was the last one he played, & he bowled very well in that game) & is a wicket taking bowler. Shami's also bowled well despite not coming out with the best figures which is a big positive too.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    @caughtatcover You are blaming bowling that setup match in the 1st match but they failed to deliver in the 1st innings. Ok but you can't say batting delivered when its needed. 185 runs 8 wickets they could have easily chased it down but failed. so its a failure. in the 4th innings of NZ too its the same story of bowling. But in both the innings where our bowlers conceded over 400 you can see one similarity, DROPPED CATCHES, NZ batsmen capitalised on that heavily. So that's an area of improvement needed asap. So I won't blame my bowlers in Press Conferences when my fielders drop catches at crutial times. Secondly you are you giving so much importance to press conferences I don't know. Its sugar coated my friend. Dressing room analysis will be ruthless. You can't say everything in the press conferences. Expectations from this young group are less from team Management point of view so these kind of articles. We public should down our bar of expectations for some time.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    @chem276 its not excuses my friend its small moments which could have turned the match upside down. Nobody talked about Umpiring decisions because its not in your hand. While dropping catches is with in your hands. Regarding Kholi's nick and the walking, Rahane had a howler in 1st innings while Dhoni was out for a noball. nobody knows how many noballs did Wagner bowled coming around the wicket. Its not excuses but small moments which India would have capitalised and the results would be different. This is a young team which failed to capitalise on those moments but with some experience and luck they will turn the tide. That's all the article points out not excuses.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    @stevenz, Sorry my friend Sport is not all about Winning its all about the fight. Some may win while some may lose but the manner in which they lose is very important. In this 9 days of test cricket India were on top for 4 days while NZ were on top for 5 days. It indicates both were close matches and with some luck those results would have been reversed. The theme of the article is simple. Both the matches were close and those small moments cost India. Nobody took the credit away from NZ for playing brilliantly. McCullum cost India the last match and India dropped him twice. Kholi was batting beautifully last match before he played a rash shot that cost India the match. These ar very small moments in last matches that if they had captured those small moments the results would have een different. So there is no hope lost. This team with all the skills and abilities will turn the corner sooner rather than later. That's the point of the article. Cheers.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    @Kalyan Bhudhavarti, Regarding Dhoni's contribution in those 10 losses ans 4 draws(tests) its simple. He didn't contribute. I accept that. But what did others contribute???? Gambhir 0 Sehwag 0 Dravid 4 Laxman 1(WI) Sachin 1(Aus) Virat 2(Aus) Ishant 2(Eng) Zaheer 0 Harbhajan 0 Ashwin 0 Raina 0 sreesanth 1(TB) Mishra 0(Eng). You are going to blame Dhoni for this????? Atleast he kept wickets for 150 overs every time. What did others contribute??????That's why he has been given another chance with different team to prove himself. This team is young and learning and within a year they will start winning. You can't expect the above names to be replaced and start winning again continuously. It will take time. Hope you understand.

  • caughtatcover on February 19, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    A series lost is a series lost. There is no if and no buts. However, the most important thing is that each time a young team loses a game, they should be able to access their own performance and take the positives and work on the negatives. The management group and more importantly the experienced captain should be able to guide the young team to learn from their failures. In the case of this current Indian team, the captain can't even pick out the problem which is its club standard bowling attack but blames the batting group which has posted scores of 421, 438 and 166 for 3. This guy can't even see the problem let alone work on fixing it. From the way I see it, things has to change at the top for India to win away from home.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    @Kalyan Bhudhavarti Why should I not compare ABD with MSD. I can proudly say MSD is better than AD in LOIs while ABD is miles ahead of MSD in Tests. reason ABd didn't take his team home in any important matches in ODIs, did he??? They always Choke. Regarding Numbers 97 better than 91 everybody knows that. But after Gambhir's wicket if Dhoni and Yuvraj got out would you say that still Gambhir played well???? He indirectly paved way for a collapse. Its world Cup final not some useless matches where you can throw your wicket and still publicly criticize the captain for not finishing earlier. MSD is regarded as the best finisher in LOIs not in the Tests. Msd has been awarded MOM for seeing the match through without any problem. If you are settled you should see your team through but what Gambhir did was childish. Its team game my dear friend some may pip another one day and viceversa. you can't keep grudges here. contd.,

  • chem276 on February 19, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    It is all silly to talk about the great Indian performance here. We always try to find an excuse when we fail. For example, we are saying that India could have won the match in South Africa, if so and so was not given out by the umpire or so and so had taken the wicket. Let us be real. If Kallis was not given out incorrectly after scoring a century, SA would have won the match and we could have lost the series 2 - 0.

    I also hear that Mac had no intention of attacking Indians after making a triple century. India could have won the match if the catches were taken. Well, if Kohli was given out by the umpire when he clearly snicked or if Southee had taken the catch of Sharma, India could have lost the match. Why do we blame others when we do not have confidence in our bowlers? India need spin bowlers who flight the ball in away series. Jadeja is good for ODI and Indian dirt pitches where spin can win the matches. Good spinners can beat India in India- remember England.

  • VinodGupte on February 19, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    kick that two-bit cricketer Jadeja out. he lost the first test by going for the glory instead of grinding it on the pitch. in the second, he bowled hopeless pies not taking any wicket. that's hardly an all-rounder.

  • karnamgiridhar on February 19, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    Well, I completely agree that India is losing away from home test series, but without the 3 big names and with young inexperienced batsmen and bowlers, the performance was laudable. Had there been 1 test victory (losing by 40 runs was close enough) under Dhonis belt, things would have changed and lot of positives would have flowed by now. Dhoni is still doing good job as far as his contribution in batting is concerned. looking closely, we all did not look up to rohit sharma or ajinkya rahane or dhawan to win test for us right? nor on Shami, Ishant or ZAK. It was only dhoni all the way and he did his best. Shami promised well, Ishant was at his best, Rahane proved his merit. why don't you accept limitations of this young team and the great learning they had in the last 2 tours of SA and NZ. I am sure they will promise a better show on next tour. Good luck Team India, I am with you.

  • yjreddyindia on February 19, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    @KiwiRocker Pujara is inconsistent?? he has done very well except this newzealand series.he has faced World's best attack and scored at an avg of 70+ in southafrica.kohli performed very well in both odis and tests this tour.shikhar has done almost two centuries and rahane is exceptional.but at crucial situations our bowlers are giving a breathe to opposition.Take them a year or two,they will be toughest to beat in the world.

  • Siddiee on February 19, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    Didn't understand this piece, agreed that a couple of catches were dropped but one can again argue that enough chances were not created after those drops. If the captain is happy with an attack where 2 bowlers are there to contain i.e. sharma and jadeja (pls dont mention one game heroics), 1 all time overrated bowler bowls in 120's then what other result can one expect.

  • on February 19, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    before losing 4 consecutive away series....

    he also won 5 consecutive away series...

  • on February 19, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Dhoni and fletcher need to re-invigorate their team composition and plans.The current lot of players are xtremely talented and equally good when it comes to performance barring a few.Team India needs a fast bowling all rounder outside asia otherwise our 3 fast bowlers will break down with the load and ashwin is not a good enough spinner outside asia to take wickets or contain. Dhoni & Fletcher need to build on stuart binny or rishi dhawan into a fast bowling all-rounder for away tours. Now that Binny is in the team its hight time Dhoni gets his plans right and make him play as a specialist all rounder for his 130kph pace swing bowling will add a new dimension to the tired attack and his positive intent batting will add just that missing flair of never to give up sehwag approach into the batting line up. Selectors should convey to fletecher & dhoni to deamd proper chances be given to players in the 15 man sqaud and to to gieva break to CSK players or non performing players.

  • on February 19, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    For God's sake Indians, you have not won a single match in the last 11 you have played across all formats, Pakistan with all their troubles (no cricket at home) still managed to win a few matches in South Africa, obviously Pakistan is better than India in away cricket at the moment. Imagine no home cricket for India for 6 years on the trot, your team will be demolished if that happens. Give respect where it is due, India does have a lot of talent specially in batting but they have such big heads that they can never be consistent winners, as they just don't want to accept their defeats.

    Like you, Pakistan does not claim to be no.1 in the world we just play our cricket but you guys cannot stop beating your chests all the time hence whenever you lose (and you lose very very often overseas) you are ridiculed more than any other cricketing nation. See your pathetic record overseas for yourself and judge how bad you have been

  • stevenz on February 19, 2014, 9:31 GMT

    Ridiculous article. The point is that India LOST. The whole point is to win and they LOST. So that is a bad thing. It can only lead to deception to use some perverse 20/20 hindsight and talk about dropped catches etc. There will always be lost or missed opportunities for both sides because that is life and cricket. The point is that India had ten days of test cricket to beat New Zealand and they COULDN'T.

  • on February 19, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    India was always in winning position each and every match (11-0) says so.good luck indians. No matter india loose, you guys are the richest. so, defeat will not lower you down.

  • TBCPak on February 19, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    i think India has put an improved show, it is just a matter of not faltering in critical moments

  • on February 19, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    @linguboy, let me answer to each and every question of yours. yes when virat was playing,Bazz too went defensive but the game was dusted by then. True at No 7, you cant always build 100+ partnershipe, then how is he any different and how come he is called the best finisher? I dont even want to get into the dropping catches debate. I am not only talking the 4 innings in NZ, I am talking through the entire 14 losses, when has Dhoni top scored or made an impact on the result with his performance. Records, averages are for those who read the scorecard at the end of the match and think they know test cricket well. You are comparing Dhoni with ABD, God bless you. Regarding Gambhir, yes bro he has himself to blame. Apparantely a 100 is a MOM stuff but a 97(still higher than 91 and more impactful and important considering the circumstances) is not.Everyone in team has something to show for by virtue of performances in tough circumstances apart from Dhoni and his clones(Vijay and jadeja).

  • srini.n on February 19, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    Quite crazy to read this kind of an article. If India's catching was not good enough, remember that NZ was also not much better - if BMac had taken Dhawan very early on in the 2nd innings at Auckland, India may never have whittled the margin down to 40 runs. Add to it the ineptness of umpiring, specifically Steve Davis - while both sides suffered, NZ was at the wrong end more times. Lest you forget, even the tied one day match should have been NZ's - Jadeja was given not out when he had clearly edged one to the wicketkeeper. Maybe that's why the BCCI does not want DRS, India tends to get away with more favourable decisions. Let's compliment NZ for a creditable & well deserved series win, rather than "credit" India for handing it over to them.

  • on February 19, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    @Lingu, close your eyes and quickly tell me 3 innings of Dhoni in the last 10 years where he has saved a test match or at least been the best player in a losing cause. Espically overseas. In the 30 odd overseas matches, Dhoni does not have a single century. Agreed to your batting at no 7 point. But I am talking about making an impact on a game(result) here. Look at Haddin, ADB and Watling recently. Compare it with Haddin and Prior when India toured there with Dhoni's performances and you will know the difference. Tell me one innings of Dhoni in a test match which you would describe as a special innings, got the team out of trouble, something you'll never ever forget. You dont need to a be a captain to lead from the front, But if you are the captain, your primary job, by default, is to lead from the front in terms of performances ON THE FIELD. Neither has he done that with the bat or with the gloves. I am sorry but I still come from a school where I pick my best XI and then the captain.

  • on February 19, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Well! 2 series lost when we should have drawn and even not remembering the debacles we had earlier the author has jumped fast into the "Save Dhoni and his bowlers bandwagon". Now if you realize Abhishek why Zaheer had to bowl 50+ overs an innings you will know that Dhoni (or Fletcher) had selected only 3 seam bowlers in a greenish pitch. So who's to blame for improper selections? We are at back-foot even before a match commences due to weird selections. Of the 3 bowlers, Zaheer is a 35+, 125 kph trundler. Was Dhoni not aware of this before the match. Ishant bowl well once in a blue moon when all the stars are in order. And he kept playing. Not giving opportunities to youngsters, a defensive outlook and weird selections should have knocked Dhoni off his pedestal long time back and even now we are given improper justifications for his continuation.

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    The only relief for Indian fans now is to discuss pakistan's performance as InsideHedge has done in response to kiwirocker. If games are meant to be used for revenue generation rather than pride then go east or west India is the best. Then this revenue could be used for PURCHASING the pride. Rest assured Asia cup is coming, pride will be back again

  • InsideHedge on February 19, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    In most sports, leaders are sacked far too quickly after defeats. Some take careful considerations and make changes - ie England. But all have pride and will question heavy defeats. Well, almost all, for India is the exception.

    Just how have the combo of MSD/Fletcher/Penney survived this long? The fielding in this recent series was well below par. Trevor was one of the finest fielders of his time, up there with Jonty Rhodes - those outside England know little about him because he didn't play internationals for Zim but here's more proof that a great player cannot necessarily become a great coach. BTW, BMac was dropped in Auckland too when he went onto make a double.

    Fletcher meanwhile must be the most fortunate coach in intl cricket. The gig calls for him NOT to speak to the media. And the Indian media is too captain obsessed to ever question the impact or lack thereof of Duncan. Surely, he should be sacked immediately.

    Just how many defeats is a team's fans supposed to put up with?

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    @Kalyan Bhudhavarti Gambhir has himself to blame in the finals. Why did he threw away his wicket at a important situation???? he could have easily stayed till the end and won the MOM. Its not the MOM award but its the WC win that's important and India won it under Dhoni's Captaincy. Nobody could deny that Dhoni played a match winning innings in the Final. CT2013 India won all the matches till the finals against every other team but you can't take credit away from India by simply saying ENG lost it. By that logic even Aus don't deserve 1999 WC bcoz SA threw away in the SF. Again nobody can deny that India was the best team in the CT2013. he took responsibilty for whitewash in AUS. And there is no shame in stating the fact that the team lost 8-0 is aged and that lost now is young. there's no twist and turns here isn't it???

  • InsideHedge on February 19, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    This article implies that McCullum was dropped only once. In fact, he was dropped multiple times in that inns. No mention is made of a hook/pull shot early in his inngs that would have gone straight down fine leg's throat had MSD not put his fine leg in a bizarre position - so fine was he that he was almost behind the keeper.

    And just how many edges fell in FRONT of the keeper/slips? The most notable for me was when McCullum was on 293. The match was gone by then but it told a tale of shocking incompetence. On a pitch that was into its 5th day, bowlers worn out from bowling almost 2 full days, a ball that was old, MSD AGAIN kept himself and the slips too far back.

    While one man cannot be blamed solely for India's failings, the captain's post match comments have now become legendary. The author is too kind on MSD the player too. Poor keeping and self inflicted dismissals were standouts, his test record as a batter outside the subcontinent is poor.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    @Kalyan Bhudhavarti Even McCullum placed for large part of 2nd innings while Virat was batting, did the NZ bowlers stopped attacking??? Regarding double centuries by Other Captain and all, Every other captain plays in TOP 6 while Dhoni comes in at 7. You can't always build 100+ innings around Indian tail. Its simple to blame the captain and all but its Kholi who dropped the match on day 3. As a Captain you can only place the fielders in right positions not take those catches too. India dropped 2-3 catches in 1st test, 2 in this test and boy every time they payed for it. Simple as that. Deserving position in the team he averages next to Haddin and ABDin the last two years. i.e 3rd best WK batsman in the world in the last 2 years. Not bad eh??? Regarding top scoring in 4 innings its simple NZ didn't drop any catches while India dropped as much as they can.

  • InsideHedge on February 19, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    @KiwiRocker - Give it a rest. Is it really that shameful to be a Pakistani fan that you hide under a Kiwi banner? Shame on you. But then again, losing 16 consecutive Tests to Australia is bound to leave psychological scars. For a team with supposed great fast bowlers, Pak is yet to win a Test series in the West Indies, yup even today against a Windies team that's lost to practically everyone else at home.

    And what happened when Pak last visited SA? Oh yeah, 45 all out was it? When did Pak last win a Test in SA? Calling yourself one of the leading Test teams today is quite the hilarity, you just lost to lowly ranked Sri lanka at home. Only Matthews' bizarre captaincy prevented Lanka from winning the series. Your last visit to England? A loss that time too. Really, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones but we do appreciate your voyeur characteristics. Do keep on watching India play, you make a vital contribution to the revenue process.

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    And I have to say this. When India wins, you know, the test ranking no. 1, the world cup, champions trophy(which again, England lost and not India won, if you know what I mean), then Dhoni is the greatest despite his contribution to the cause being practically nil(including the finals when every cricket lover knew Gambhir deserved the MOM). But when the team fails, the bowlers are useless, the batting is useless, it is a young team and every sort of reasons are given to protect Dhoni. So in team sport, somehow Dhoni alone is responsible and gets all the credit for the high's and when it comes to the low's it is the team that is failing. Even the Waugh's and the Ganguly's did not have this luxury. Cheers to the monopoly in Indian cricket.

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    @KiwiRocker most of your ideas make sense apart from your bias in favor of Pak & against Sachin & Kohli.

    Can't figure out how, Pak, that were white washed to SA & leveled at home with SL is better than Ind that white washed Aus at home & lost 1 & drew 1 in SA................Plz develop unbiased mindset

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    'Dhoni spoke about the need for his batsmen to capitalise when they were in' Absolutely true Mr Purohit, But please answer why you are referring to the top Six and not top seven. Isin't Dhoni a very important part of the batting lineup and its most experienced player? You are talking about the 69 quick scoring runs which changed the momentum but that is all Dhoni can do. take advantage of good postions to score quickly(including the 226 after Puji's ton). Can you depend on Dhoni to play an innings like McCullum did or for that matter Watling did. Has he ever done that, saved a test match or at least been the best player in a losing cause. In these 4 tests, being the senior most, has he atlst top scored in 1 innings. Yes the bowlers could have shown some teeth, but when a bowler comes back for a third spell and see a deep point, a long on/off, the zest to attack will automatically go. I dont hate Dhoni personally but he has never deserved a place in the test team let alone captain it.

  • AndrewFromOz on February 19, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    I'm so glad I read this article. I had thought that New Zealand had won a test series. Having read this article I now know what really happened was that India played fantastic cricket to brilliantly come second.

  • on February 19, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    Seems like a fair assessment. Batting certainly has improved and Indian team did have their moments in SA and in NZ Test matches. But ODI 's were complete washouts and its the reason for concern. But the article does't talk much about Dhonis team selection policy. He is hurting the team because of that. He says that Vijay has been playing well in the Nets. Is that reason enough to select him ? Has India dearth of options ? I do't think we lack alternate players in any department. Why keep giving so many chances to players when they failed repeatedly ? What is your obligation to defend them ?

  • fullawareness on February 19, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    A good article. Please ask Sidharth Monga to read it. Although I am fan of Monga's writings- he is one of the few nuanced minds on cricket along with sambit and Ian Chappel-Monga does seem to have a go at Dhoni a bit too easily. I feel Dhoni has changed and is still changing in the last few tests, especially starting from the SA tour. No doubt he is one of the more defensive captains around, especially overseas, but there are many angles to that. It is very difficult to keep attacking when batsmen are batting at 100+. even for clarke and mac. Dhoni did make inentive changes-he tried everything but could not break the partnership. Give dhoni a break Monga!

  • KiwiRocker- on February 19, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    India is the only test playing nation that has managed to lose in Australia, in England, in SA, In New Zealand and to top it all off, they also managed to lose at home against England. Dhoni's comments are mildly amusing. India has managed to lose against 7th ranked NZ and Dhoni is talking about improvements. If process does not justify te outcome then process is flawed! India's so called best spinner is finished. India's fast bowlers were tonked by NZ for 700 runs....Indian openers are inconsistent. Pujara has started to fade away after much hype. Kohli promised a lot but delivered nothing. His century was thanks to umpiring blunder...I am stuggling to see what improvements? Players like Gambhir, Yuvraj, Raina have been discarded and India's overall cricket is on decline. If ICC rankings were fair then India will not be in top 5.If ICC was not being run by BCCI then India will be stripped off its test status. Top test playing nations at current form are: Australia, SA, England and Pak

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  • KiwiRocker- on February 19, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    India is the only test playing nation that has managed to lose in Australia, in England, in SA, In New Zealand and to top it all off, they also managed to lose at home against England. Dhoni's comments are mildly amusing. India has managed to lose against 7th ranked NZ and Dhoni is talking about improvements. If process does not justify te outcome then process is flawed! India's so called best spinner is finished. India's fast bowlers were tonked by NZ for 700 runs....Indian openers are inconsistent. Pujara has started to fade away after much hype. Kohli promised a lot but delivered nothing. His century was thanks to umpiring blunder...I am stuggling to see what improvements? Players like Gambhir, Yuvraj, Raina have been discarded and India's overall cricket is on decline. If ICC rankings were fair then India will not be in top 5.If ICC was not being run by BCCI then India will be stripped off its test status. Top test playing nations at current form are: Australia, SA, England and Pak

  • fullawareness on February 19, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    A good article. Please ask Sidharth Monga to read it. Although I am fan of Monga's writings- he is one of the few nuanced minds on cricket along with sambit and Ian Chappel-Monga does seem to have a go at Dhoni a bit too easily. I feel Dhoni has changed and is still changing in the last few tests, especially starting from the SA tour. No doubt he is one of the more defensive captains around, especially overseas, but there are many angles to that. It is very difficult to keep attacking when batsmen are batting at 100+. even for clarke and mac. Dhoni did make inentive changes-he tried everything but could not break the partnership. Give dhoni a break Monga!

  • on February 19, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    Seems like a fair assessment. Batting certainly has improved and Indian team did have their moments in SA and in NZ Test matches. But ODI 's were complete washouts and its the reason for concern. But the article does't talk much about Dhonis team selection policy. He is hurting the team because of that. He says that Vijay has been playing well in the Nets. Is that reason enough to select him ? Has India dearth of options ? I do't think we lack alternate players in any department. Why keep giving so many chances to players when they failed repeatedly ? What is your obligation to defend them ?

  • AndrewFromOz on February 19, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    I'm so glad I read this article. I had thought that New Zealand had won a test series. Having read this article I now know what really happened was that India played fantastic cricket to brilliantly come second.

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    'Dhoni spoke about the need for his batsmen to capitalise when they were in' Absolutely true Mr Purohit, But please answer why you are referring to the top Six and not top seven. Isin't Dhoni a very important part of the batting lineup and its most experienced player? You are talking about the 69 quick scoring runs which changed the momentum but that is all Dhoni can do. take advantage of good postions to score quickly(including the 226 after Puji's ton). Can you depend on Dhoni to play an innings like McCullum did or for that matter Watling did. Has he ever done that, saved a test match or at least been the best player in a losing cause. In these 4 tests, being the senior most, has he atlst top scored in 1 innings. Yes the bowlers could have shown some teeth, but when a bowler comes back for a third spell and see a deep point, a long on/off, the zest to attack will automatically go. I dont hate Dhoni personally but he has never deserved a place in the test team let alone captain it.

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    @KiwiRocker most of your ideas make sense apart from your bias in favor of Pak & against Sachin & Kohli.

    Can't figure out how, Pak, that were white washed to SA & leveled at home with SL is better than Ind that white washed Aus at home & lost 1 & drew 1 in SA................Plz develop unbiased mindset

  • on February 19, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    And I have to say this. When India wins, you know, the test ranking no. 1, the world cup, champions trophy(which again, England lost and not India won, if you know what I mean), then Dhoni is the greatest despite his contribution to the cause being practically nil(including the finals when every cricket lover knew Gambhir deserved the MOM). But when the team fails, the bowlers are useless, the batting is useless, it is a young team and every sort of reasons are given to protect Dhoni. So in team sport, somehow Dhoni alone is responsible and gets all the credit for the high's and when it comes to the low's it is the team that is failing. Even the Waugh's and the Ganguly's did not have this luxury. Cheers to the monopoly in Indian cricket.

  • InsideHedge on February 19, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    @KiwiRocker - Give it a rest. Is it really that shameful to be a Pakistani fan that you hide under a Kiwi banner? Shame on you. But then again, losing 16 consecutive Tests to Australia is bound to leave psychological scars. For a team with supposed great fast bowlers, Pak is yet to win a Test series in the West Indies, yup even today against a Windies team that's lost to practically everyone else at home.

    And what happened when Pak last visited SA? Oh yeah, 45 all out was it? When did Pak last win a Test in SA? Calling yourself one of the leading Test teams today is quite the hilarity, you just lost to lowly ranked Sri lanka at home. Only Matthews' bizarre captaincy prevented Lanka from winning the series. Your last visit to England? A loss that time too. Really, those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones but we do appreciate your voyeur characteristics. Do keep on watching India play, you make a vital contribution to the revenue process.

  • linguboy on February 19, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    @Kalyan Bhudhavarti Even McCullum placed for large part of 2nd innings while Virat was batting, did the NZ bowlers stopped attacking??? Regarding double centuries by Other Captain and all, Every other captain plays in TOP 6 while Dhoni comes in at 7. You can't always build 100+ innings around Indian tail. Its simple to blame the captain and all but its Kholi who dropped the match on day 3. As a Captain you can only place the fielders in right positions not take those catches too. India dropped 2-3 catches in 1st test, 2 in this test and boy every time they payed for it. Simple as that. Deserving position in the team he averages next to Haddin and ABDin the last two years. i.e 3rd best WK batsman in the world in the last 2 years. Not bad eh??? Regarding top scoring in 4 innings its simple NZ didn't drop any catches while India dropped as much as they can.

  • InsideHedge on February 19, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    This article implies that McCullum was dropped only once. In fact, he was dropped multiple times in that inns. No mention is made of a hook/pull shot early in his inngs that would have gone straight down fine leg's throat had MSD not put his fine leg in a bizarre position - so fine was he that he was almost behind the keeper.

    And just how many edges fell in FRONT of the keeper/slips? The most notable for me was when McCullum was on 293. The match was gone by then but it told a tale of shocking incompetence. On a pitch that was into its 5th day, bowlers worn out from bowling almost 2 full days, a ball that was old, MSD AGAIN kept himself and the slips too far back.

    While one man cannot be blamed solely for India's failings, the captain's post match comments have now become legendary. The author is too kind on MSD the player too. Poor keeping and self inflicted dismissals were standouts, his test record as a batter outside the subcontinent is poor.