Kane Williamson: 'Defiant attitude great to see' from New Zealand
Captain says going for a win went "off the cards" during the second session of the final day that saw his side eke out a draw
Since the start of 2013, India have won 19 tosses in Tests at home. Apart from the two weather-affected draws, they have won 16 matches, and only one by fewer than 100 runs. This Kanpur draw in the 19th is arguably the best performance by a side against arguably the biggest challenge in Test cricket today: to face India in India and lose the toss. It is hard enough to face India in India, but once they get the first use of the pitch, it is a nightmare, which shows in these numbers.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson could look back with some satisfaction at the effort, especially after coming here with a "disjointed" preparation. "There was a lot of heart and effort going into that end result. Having said that there were so many contributions throughout the game that kept us right in it for long periods, certainly after losing the toss. There was a really strong partnership, Wriddhiman Saha getting that fifty and putting them back on the front foot and allowed them to declare and try to fight for that winning result.
"For us, having that experience, going out, batsmen spending time in the middle and bowlers getting overs under their belt after a fairly disjointed preparation was really valuable. For us it is really important that we make adjustments quickly again. We go to a new venue, and it will be different."
It was Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson who kept New Zealand in the game with 14 wickets between them on a surface that India's spinners did all the damage. That once again raised the old question if it was necessary to play two spinners in India and not your best bowlers even if that means playing a third seamer. Williamson defended his spinners Ajaz Patel and William Somerville there.
"I mean you are always trying to adjust to conditions," Williamson said. "The spinners that we have have been outstanding for us in a number of games and these sort of conditions. I think they will be much better for the hit out there. They have both come out of Auckland where they have been locked in their houses for a few weeks. So it has been a bit of a rush to get some overs under their belt.
"Having said that, they did make valuable contributions with the bat and the ball. The way the two seamers as well operated was simply outstanding and really gave us a fighting chance in this match.
"Tim and Kyle's efforts kept us in the game and gave us a fighting chance to change the momentum. There was not a lot of pace to play with. Tim was able to change his angles and was certainly immaculate with his lengths and created opportunities for us, which is really special. Certainly at his best, and it was really great to see.
"Remarkable start to Test cricket for Kyle, the fastest in our country to 50 wickets by some way. It is a really special effort and to do it in a number of different conditions. Tom Latham and Will Young as well. The contributions they made with the bat. Their sort of defiant attitude to committing with their plan and sticking to it was great to see."
New Zealand started the day needing 280 more runs with nine wickets in hand. They were given hope by the nightwatchman Somerville, who hung around with opener Latham for the entirety of the session. However, Williamson said India's bowling was good enough to never let them entertain thoughts of a win.
"Coming into the day we were aware that all three results were possible," Williamson said. "Having said that there was a lot of hard work to do to give yourself a chance to chase versus trying to chase too early and finding yourselves in a sticky position. It was a matter of trying to take the day deep. And if we were close we would have had a crack if we were in the right position. But we weren't in the end.
"India were able to put us under pressure throughout the sessions. Scoring was tough to come by, and there was a lot of navigating low bounce and balls that spun and those sort of things. If things unfold ideally, then it would have been great to try and get close to the desired result. Having said that, I think going through that second session, it was quickly off the cards. Then we saw a lot of contributions from the guys where they really knuckled down and fought hard to get a draw in the end. That was the next best thing for us."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo