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NZ batting their way out of trouble

Daniel Vettori had been asked more than once before the first two Tests whether his team has the attack to bowl out the Indians. Having done that thrice in as many opportunities, the New Zealand captain can now ask the same question to the Indians. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

cricket Updated: Nov 17, 2010 01:26 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Daniel Vettori had been asked more than once before the first two Tests whether his team has the attack to bowl out the Indians. Having done that thrice in as many opportunities, the New Zealand captain can now ask the same question to the Indians.

Apart from Harbhajan Singh's back-to-back centuries, the prolonged struggle of the Indian bowlers against the visiting batsmen has been a standout feature of the ongoing series and unlike New Zealand, India have not succeeded in bowling them out every time.

Barring Bradley John Walting, who was dropped after the first Test, all the frontline batsmen used by New Zealand have come good and four centuries with a double apart from five half-centuries in two Tests is something not many touring sides in India have achieved in recent times. The pitches helped, but the batsmen showed sound temperament to exploit the good conditions for batting.

"I'm extremely pleased with the way our top order has absorbed the pressure," said Vettori here on Tuesday. "The way our openers played here is an example. Tim McIntosh was coming off a pair and Brendon McCullum was playing his second Test as opener. Considering that, they have done a marvellous job."

"To come to India and play against big names is not easy. We were under pressure after doing badly in Bangladesh and our batsmen were expected to step up. Doing well in the first innings was crucial because that would keep the bowlers fresh and our batsmen have stayed in the middle for long enough to ensure that," said Vettori.

Except for the academic second innings in the first Test, the three times they batted, New Zealand scored a minimum of 350 on each occasion. That's a first this millennium apart from matches against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. The fact that it has taken them 84 Tests since 2000 to do it underlines the significance of this effort.

Of the batsmen, McCullum, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder came here with some reputation. But the likes of Tim McIntosh, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson have also put their hands up when needed. Williamson has been most impressive of the lesser known and at 20, looks a great find with remarkable composure and skill.

Written off even before the start of the series, the Kiwis have shown steel and application to defy India so far. Before the last Test starts in Nagpur on Saturday, it wouldn't be prudent to call them underdogs.