New Zealand coach Mike Hesson has said his side should be proud of the fact that they managed to put pressure on India, despite losing an evenly matched Bangalore Test by five wickets. After losing the first Test in Hyderabad by an innings, they fancied their chances of squaring the series in Bangalore by setting a target of 261. India stuttered, but got over the line on the fourth day after being reduced to 166 for 5.
"I think we have made huge progress in this Test. The score we operated with in the first innings (365) was more than competitive," Hesson said. "To get a first-innings lead against a quality Indian side showed that we'd made some improvements there. In the second innings the conditions were a bit tougher, we made a couple of errors at crucial times, we also could have fallen over but we didn't. We took on some players with fearful records.
"In the end, we set them a challenging a total that gave our bowlers a real chance. Sure we would have wanted more (runs). We still have to keep that positive mindset."
The defeat was New Zealand's fourth in as many Tests since the tour of the West Indies in July-August. New Zealand are at No.8 in the ICC Test rankings, above Bangladesh. Hesson admitted, thoughk that the players were disappointed they couldn't close out the game.
"We are ranked where we are for a reason, but I thought there were good signs in all areas of the game in Bangalore," Hesson said. "No one likes to lose and the dressing room was quite gutted because we put a top side under pressure, which many sides haven't been able to do in India in a long time. To put ourselves into that position and not get over the line was frustrating.
"The players are extremely hard on themselves, individually and collectively. Some talk about the inadequacies in other players to try and help them. We've got a good leadership group that's learning to lead. We're trying to get the guys to evolve so they can challenge each other and start to ask tough questions."
New Zealand left out their most experienced seamer, Chris Martin, for Tim Southee, whose 7 for 64 were the best figures for a New Zealand bowler in India. Southee's efforts helped New Zealand gain a slender first-innings lead of 12. Hesson said leaving out Martin was a "tough call" but insisted that he was definitely in the mix for future selection.
"We thought Chris bowled well in Hyderabad but we thought Tim was ready to go. He had been bowling beautifully and someone had to miss out. Chris has a lot of experience and helps pull the whole bowling group together."
Hesson said the side had a lot to learn in terms of decision making out in the middle, especially in Hyderabad, where New Zealand failed to pass 200 in both innings.
"We lost a number of wickets in the first Test because we were indecisive, whether it be to play, or leave, to push for a single or to attack. If you make the wrong decision and commit to it sometimes you can get out of trouble. We tried to ensure we didn't make those mistakes from Hyderabad in this Test."
Hesson said the players had done their best to simulate match conditions at the nets. "We have competitive nets. We create an environment in our net situation where the guys are under pressure. Very difficult of course to replicate 40,000 screaming Indians."