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Sidharth Monga in Napier
March 30, 2009
Amid the euphoria around a magnificent marathon from Gautam Gambhir, it's easy to forget that, coming into this match, New Zealand were the clear underdogs who were expected to offer few challenges to the Indians. In that context, the home team will take the draw, despite being on the field continuously for three days and a session, which can be demoralising and obviously tiring.
"Pleased with the performance," Daniel Vettori said. "Relatively happy with what we did. We were dominant through the Test match. After the performance in Hamilton it was very pleasing to bounce back the way we did. We're obviously disappointed not to get the win, not to be able to force the issue on the final day.
"The ability to score those big runs - the third-highest score by New Zealand - should never be underestimated. And the performances of Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum with the bat backed up by magnificent first-innings bowling spells by guys like Chris Martin and Jeetan Patel. I was really pleased with that. We couldn't quite get the early wickets in the second innings, and that was the only really hard thing about the Test match."
Drawn Test matches create interesting debates for moral victories. Andy Moles, New Zealand's coach, had claimed one yesterday. "If things don't go well tomorrow, it's a game drawn," Moles said. "The Indians will know - come next week - that we are a better side than we were when we came to Napier. The way the Indians have played today probably shows a little more respect for New Zealand."
But drawn Test matches are also about carrying momentum into the next match, a series-decider in this case. New Zealand have spent 273.5 overs on the field, and yet cannot win the series. "We know that we're nowhere near where we want to be as a Test playing nation, but these are the days we're going to have to put up with if we want to get better," Vettori said.
"We have three days to rest. The bowling loads were spread out as much as possible, but three days standing up does take a toll on some bodies."
A seamer-friendly pitch would have reduced that workload, and Vettori was obviously not pleased with the surface. "On most good Test wickets you get a bit of variable bounce, some inconsistency as the wicket tends to wear away and become more difficult for batting," Vettori said. "You could bat on this wicket for another five or six days if you wanted to. It was just a supremely great deck for batting on for long periods of time.
"Everyone wants to see a wicket deteriorate and with inconsistent bounce when the spinners come into play. You want batting to become a bit more difficult as the Test match goes on. Batting conditions were even throughout this Test match. At no stage did we think this wicket's getting tough."
But he will settle for a traditional Basin Reserve track going into the series-decider in Wellington. "I suppose we want something different to this wicket," he said. "We want to give both teams an opportunity for a result. The Basin traditionally has something in it on the first morning and then settles down to become a good batting wicket. If we came across the traditional Basin Reserve deck we'd be happy with that. If we have to bowl first in Wellington I expect the same intensity that the guys brought into this Test match."
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