Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Sometimes, you can tell a lot about a batsman by how he puts away a half-volley. The bowler was James Neesham, and the batsman was Mayank Agarwal, batting on 34. The ball was full and a little floaty, angling in towards off stump.
Agarwal brought his bat down perfectly straight and presented its full face to the ball, which sped away to the straight boundary after bisecting umpire and non-striker. The straight drive to the on, the shot that made Sachin Tendulkar nod in approval whenever he played it, probably involuntarily but possibly not.
This was the seventh four of Agarwal's innings, and he had also hit a six by then. Some of those shots had come off better deliveries than this one, and some - such as an uppercut off Scott Kuggeleijn, played with both feet in the air - had required a greater exercise of his dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
This, though, was perhaps the most important shot of his innings. This, and a virtual replica in Neesham's next over, off a delivery of similar line but better length, not quite as full.
"I got a couple of on-drives in this innings and as a batsman, you know that you have to be doing a lot of things correct to hit an on-drive," Agarwal later said. "When I got a couple of those, it gave me the assurance that was required."
Agarwal was certainly in need of assurance. He had landed in New Zealand in the middle of January and batted 11 times since then, for India A, India, and the Indians. He hadn't made a single fifty in those 11 innings.
More than the scores themselves, the nature of some of his dismissals - particularly in the second and third ODIs - had pointed to a technical issue, wherein his trigger movement was getting him into too much of a closed-off position, with his front shoulder much further to the off side than his back shoulder, forcing him to play around his body and square up to compensate.
Agarwal wasn't too keen on dissecting the technical adjustments he'd had to make but revealed that he had indeed been getting too closed-off, and that he had worked on the issue with Vikram Rathour, India's batting coach, after his early dismissal on the first day of this warm-up match.
The efforts certainly seemed to bear fruit, never more emphatically than when he drove Neesham down the ground. No shot is better at telling batsmen that they are properly balanced, and properly aligned at the crease, than the straight- or on-drive. It tells them that their head isn't falling over, and their front leg isn't going too far across and getting in the way of their bat coming down straight. If he was still getting too closed-off, Agarwal might have had to play around his front pad, and work the same balls squarer, through midwicket or even square leg.
The effect of being better aligned was apparent through the rest of his innings too - his footwork and weight transfer just looked more precise, whatever shot he played - and he flowed on to 81 before retiring at lunch. This may have been just a warm-up match, and one lacking first-class status, but runs are runs, and, perhaps more importantly in the lead-up to the first Test in Wellington, fluency is fluency.
The two candidates to open with Agarwal, meanwhile, were both out to induckers from Daryl Mitchell, Prithvi Shaw bowled and Shubman Gill lbw. Both planted their front foot too firmly and both drove a little too loosely. But while Gill was out for his second low score of the match, Shaw made a shot-a-minute 39 off 31 balls, putting away even marginal errors in line and length, and more or less sealed his spot alongside Agarwal.