New Zealand came into this series after a miserable time in the Caribbean and were expected to be pummelled by an Indian side that has built up an enviable home record over the past decade. The feeble capitulation in Hyderabad seemed to confirm the fears about a one-sided series, though every New Zealand player routinely talked about scrapping hard and showing fight. It seemed idle talk a week ago but at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, New Zealand pushed India all the way before going down by five wickets.
Even after Ross Taylor's power-packed century on the first day, the expectation was that New Zealand's challenge would fade away. However, Tim Southee's career-best effort gained them a first-innings lead and right till the final session of the Test, New Zealand were in with a chance of a first Test win in India since 1988.
"If we're brutally honest, we would have liked to score a few more runs in that first innings to put pressure on India," Ross Taylor said, when asked where the match was lost. "We'd like to have restricted them to a few less. I wouldn't put it down to just one little moment. It was just, we lost the Test match over time."
With India five down, and nearly 100 away from victory, New Zealand had a real chance but Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, two batsmen renowned for their ability in one-day chases, successful shepherded India's pursuit. "The bowlers tried their heart out," Taylor said. "They bowled a lot of overs in a short period of time. You have to give credit to Kohli and Dhoni, they batted very well."
The result means New Zealand have lost four successive Tests over the past six weeks, two of them after being ahead halfway through the game. "The last match was a heavy loss. In Jamaica they had to score a record chase to win, so I wouldn't say that wasn't a hard win. We had a good sniff - we just lost it in one session in Jamaica and Antigua. And here, India had to get, I think, their fourth or fifth highest run chase ever. We tried our best, it still hurts but hopefully we can improve from this."
Despite the 2-0 series defeat, New Zealand had several things to be happy about, with the performance of their young trio of quick bowlers in the unfamiliar conditions of the subcontinent top of the list. Trent Boult belied his boyish looks by bowling with pace and hostility without getting the reward for his efforts, Southee hasn't played more than four Tests at a stretch since his debut in 2008 but made his case for a permanent place in Bangalore, while Doug Bracewell showed his ability to bowl the outswinger and contribute with the bat in the lower order. All of them are in their early 20s, and could form a potent attack over the years.
"It's exciting for new Zealand cricket," Taylor said. "We've got a young bowler in Adam Milne who is turning up as well. We play half our games away - they won't be as bouncy. But on bouncier wickets back home, I'm sure they'll thrive."
With other fast bowlers like Neil Wagner and Mark Gillespie also queuing up for a Test place, the future of 37-year-old Chris Martin, who led the attack for several years, looks bleak. "Who's that at No.11, we want Chris Martin," read a poster at the Chinnaswamy Stadium after he was left out for the Bangalore Test, though Taylor stressed that it wasn't the end of the road for Martin.
"I think with young fast bowlers, they need someone to learn off. There's going to be times in the next few months that Chris will play and there'll be times when he might not play at all," he said. "We have a tour to Sri Lanka coming up but also a tour to South Africa and in New Zealand where we could go in with four quicks. So he's still got a part to play with New Zealand cricket."