New Zealand cricket captain Ross Taylor bats during a practice session at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. PTI photo
More than the moments during the match, the first Test between India and New Zealand was about the passages of play where the Kiwi skipper Ross Taylor let the Indian batting off the hook. This does not take anything away from the Indian unit, but gives a useful insight into Taylor's and New Zealand's collective 'defensive' mindset that has allowed the game to drift away from them. Test matches are a wonderful spectacle because they aren't so much about the final result, as they are about the process.
On a typical win-the-toss-bat-first-pitch, losing the toss could be very unfortunate. But for a team that had included four bowlers who bowl seam-up in the playing XI, it could've been a blessing in disguise, for the deteriorating pitch can be exploited only if you have the right personnel. The pitch may offer a lot of turn and variable bounce on day four and five of the match, but if you don't have quality spinners to make full use of the favourable conditions, it means precious little.
The pitch at Hyderabad, quite surprisingly, had a bit of moisture on the first morning. Chris Martin and co. removed the three most experienced Indian batsmen quickly, but instead of tightening the noose, Taylor chose to give his faster men a breather. Then, Dhoni eased himself back to some form when Taylor chose a part-time bowler in Kane Williamson.
The argument in favour of continuing with spin was that the second new ball was around the corner, and more importantly New Zealand was way behind the over-rate.
But wouldn't you rather face some penalty than allow the opposition to run away with the game?
The writer is a former India opener