“I have to put these down as some of the tougher conditions I have ever played in my career.” Trent Boult couldn’t have been more clear about the extent to which exhaustion has taken a toll on New Zealand. Unlike Matt Henry or Neil Wagner, this isn’t Boult’s first tour of India. He is a seasoned IPL player with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Henry, however, had only played in the colder climes of New Zealand and England before this. For him, to come to this furnace and take three wickets in each innings is no mean feat. But this isn’t only about surviving the heat. Irrespective of how this Test ends, it will be remembered for the way Boult, Henry and Wagner bowled as a group to specific plans. Given India already had a lead of 112 runs, the New Zealand pacers had to be tighter than before and also take quick wickets.
“We didn’t want to give away anything too easy or too soft. We knew if we put the ball in the areas we did, we were going to be very challenging. Matt has come back into the Test arena and stepped up. He has been superb and backed up by the rest of the bowlers. We have been in positions before we have had a deficit and we have had to bowl ourselves to get us back in a good position,” said Boult. They almost did that job by pruning India to 43/4 within the 14th over.
What was not compromised upon quite consistently was the length offered to the batsmen. Murali Vijay was kept edgy just outside off-stump, Shikhar Dhawan was not allowed to come on his front foot while Ajinkya Rahane was quickly put on the back-foot with short deliveries.
Not only were there separate plans for every batsmen, there was backup strategy as well, said Boult.
“The guys did extremely well to put the ball in the areas we did and apply that pressure. It was spoken in the huddle that we weren’t just going to let them drift away with the game with a figure in mind. We wanted to put pressure on them and make them earn every run. I think we did very well,” said Boult.