If it is not your day, it is likely it won't be your evening either. On the first day of the Kolkata Test, New Zealand woke up to the news that Kane Williamson's illness had not subsided, and that he was not going to play. Some fans might have thought a new captain might at least win the toss. The new captain, Ross Taylor, thought he had, but reality struck immediately. Match referee David Boon told him Virat Kohli had. "It was a commemorative coin," Taylor said suggesting he didn't quite get the "head" and "tail" on the coin right. "Thought I'd won it. Then Boonie said Kohli had won."
For a while it did seem like a good toss to lose as the bowlers picked up early wickets, but once the Indian lower order took them across 300, it was always going to be a losing battle for New Zealand. The toss here didn't play that big a part, though. Taylor agreed. "[Would have been] nice to bat first but don't think that would've had made too much difference," Taylor said. "They put us under pressure at times, and we weren't able to sustain it with the bat."
India's first-innings score gave them a 112-run lead, which meant New Zealand couldn't afford to attack for too long even when they had India down at 43 for 4 and 106 for 6 in the second innings. "I'd hark back to being 100 runs behind in that first innings," Taylor said when asked of a third straight failure to run through India's tail. "In hindsight it would have been nice to score a few more runs and if India were 3 for 40 and their lead wasn't as much. Any time you are playing catch up from that far behind, there is a lot of what-ifs.
"We could go through every session. At the end of the day we were beaten by a better side. Our pacemen were definitely positive and even the way [Mitchell] Santner and Jeets [Jeetan Patel] bowled. Jeets coming in, wasn't easy [for him] after only being in the country for a day and a half. To bowl as well as he did in that first innings and score some valuable runs, [without which] we could have been even further behind the eight ball. Yes we are disappointed, we've got to take the positives and hopefully we can play better in the next match."
One of the positives was their bowling, which improved from Kanpur. "The bowlers fought throughout and that's something we can take to Indore," Taylor said. "It was pretty hot and humid out there. I liked the way they kept trucking in asking for the ball and the hostility they bowled with sometimes. We're seen as a friendly team and still are, but as a fast bowler you need a bit of mongrel. So for Henners [Matt Henry], who hasn't played for a while, to come and get six wickets on that wicket was good. We're still fizzing to go for Indore, hopefully we can play some fear-free cricket to put India under pressure."
Taylor rued not being competitive for long enough. "Winning key moments was important," Taylor said. "The way Saha came out in both innings when the game was in balance, those two fifties put us on the back foot. Rohit's innings was outstanding but full credit to our bowlers running in. A similar wicket would be good and hopefully Kane can win the toss."
There was at least that bit of good news for New Zealand. Williamson came to Eden Gardens on the fourth day, and has shown signs he might be ready for the Indore Test, which begins on Saturday. "Anytime you have your skipper and best player out it is disappointing," Taylor said, "but there has been times when Kane hasn't played one-day internationals and this probably isn't going to be the last time, with injuries; the team has to step up.
"We can't rely on Kane all the time. It was good to see him walking about [today]. I'm sure he'll be a bit lethargic over the next couple of days; it's still pretty tiring losing a few kilos and being stuck inside. But there are positive signs he'll be ready for the next match, and it will obviously be good for the team to have our skipper back."
Losing a few kilos is not just Williamson's concern. He might have been down with fever, but the others have never played Test cricket in such heat and humidity. These are some of the earliest Tests in an India season. The summer temperatures have hardly started to go down. It has taken a toll on New Zealand, which can partly explain some of their failures to get the tail out.
"Definitely up with hottest test series I've been part of," Taylor said. "A lot of their bowlers and batsmen were tired too. Pretty hot and humid. [In an] ideal world, [we would] send players [early] and get exposure. Comes down to funding but lucky some players come into IPL who mix and mingle with the stars of today to get knowledge.
"Kohli says it's cooler in Indore so I'm happy."