Tour review

New Zealand vs India in 2019-20

Andrew Alderson

Twenty20 internationals (5): New Zealand 0, India 5 One-day internationals (3): New Zealand 3, India 0 Test matches (2): New Zealand 2 (120pts), India 0 (0pts)

These teams seemed to be heading in different directions as the tour began. India had despatched allcomers since New Zealand beat them in the World Cup semi-final in July 2019: West Indies (twice), South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Australia were seen off in various formats. New Zealand, meanwhile, were reeling from a whitewash in Australia - who won all three Tests by more than 240 runs - dousing speculation that this was their finest team.

The Twenty20s continued the trend: India's IPL muscle memory kept them unbeaten. Their batting heroes were K. L. Rahul, who collected 224 runs despite being lumbered with the wicketkeeping gloves, and Shreyas Iyer, who made 153; they would lead the way in the 50-over matches too, with 204 and 217 respectively.

However, the 5-0 scoreline disguised the level of drama in a series that featured later than usual starts after New Zealand Cricket acceded to Indian television demands: the fourth match, at Wellington, ended after midnight. New Zealand could not escape their cricketing kryptonite, the super over, which had proved a step too far in the World Cup final and November's T20 decider against England. Now, in the third and fourth matches, they endured two more. Kane Williamson was forced to admit that super overs "certainly haven't been our friend" as his side stumbled to two more agonising defeats.

As the angst grew, radio phone-ins brimmed with callers relieved that the Super Rugby competition was beginning earlier than normal. Critics had a handy target: after eight successive defeats, head coach Gary Stead then took what NZC described as a planned break, sitting out the one-day series. Conspiracy theories abounded, and the former Test captain Jeremy Coney fanned the flames: "Would you call it desertion, or would you just say it's a really bad look?"

The criticism dissolved when India's juggernaut was halted in the 50-over matches, starting with a Ross Taylor-led chase of 348. That performance turned the tables: Jasprit Bumrah failed to take a wicket in 30 overs (though he was India's most economical seamer), while Virat Kohli's footwork struggled to counter a dogged short-of-a-length line outside off stump, too full to pull and too short to drive. He made 51 in the opening ODI, but fell away alarmingly, and dragged the Indian batting down with him; he averaged less than ten in the Tests, his second-lowest in a series.

Kohli also lost his cool in the Second Test: he seemingly mouthed a Hindi insult after Williamson's dismissal in the first innings, and swore at the crowd following Tom Latham's departure. He jousted with the media when asked if he should be setting a better example.

The yin of Kohli's batting and general attitude was balanced by the yang of Kyle Jamieson, a 25-year-old Aucklander who made his one-day and Test debuts, and earned match awards in both series. At 6ft 8in, he was the tallest man to represent New Zealand, and found awkward bounce to take nine Test wickets at 16. More surprisingly, his batting proved useful in a low-scoring series: down at No. 9, he hit 44 at Wellington and 49 at Christchurch, demoralising the Indians.

Jamieson's contribution with the ball was trumped only by Tim Southee, who showed what a blunder it had been to rest him from the Third Test in Sydney at the start of the year. He took 14 wickets at 13 in the Tests, which suggested he had recovered from the strain of bowling all three dispiriting super overs during the New Zealand summer.

© John Wisden & Co