New Zealand had a near-perfect game in Nagpur. I say near-perfect because I would have liked to see them turn out in their retro-beige outfits of the 80s rather than in simmering black. Beige outfits would have gone well with the bearded New Zealand faces. For now, let us give it to them for beating the conditions more than the opposition.
I was surprised they didn’t pick left-arm quick Trent Boult in the eleven. The team management was proven right by picking three spinners, whereas I thought they missed a trick somewhere. The pitch surprised most of us. I thought it would encourage a high-scoring T20 game rather than produce a low-scoring fixture.
In a multi-nation tournament like a World Cup, pitches are overlooked by an ICC curator which leaves me even more perplexed by its dry nature.
I agree with captain Mahender Singh Dhoni when he blamed the batsmen for the debacle. The shot selection wasn’t up there from a team like ours. It is a bane of modern thinking that it is either a four or six in T20 or nothing. I know it looks flashy to hit the ball in the stands but this was a surface for grafters. It needed better strike rotation, and singles and doubles could have been the DNA of India’s run chase. When the ball is turning as much it was in Nagpur, it is convenient to push the ball in the gaps.
Someone during the day suggested that we’ve not been playing spin well, the case in point being our show against the likes of Moeen Ali, Nathan Lyon, James Tredwell and perhaps a few more. Is it lack of temperament? Is it lack of skill to play spin? Is it lack of experience of playing on turning tracks? For me, it is lack of skill which is due to lack of practice. I have been leading Delhi in Ranji Trophy. There are some good, young batsmen but I have seldom seen them practice on a turning or under-prepared pitch. I guess that needs to change.
The newspapers looked gloomy after the loss. Come on guys, it was a bad day. In any case, New Zealand are always a tough team to beat as they are better balanced.
It was a good effort by the India bowlers and fielders. Pakistan won their first game and India have lost theirs. My wife is not too much into cricket, but even she feels this could be a good equation. “The Indian team is like a cornered tiger. They always do well when cornered,” was Natasha’s take.
Talking of being cornered, I feel like domesticated husband these days. After helping her replace the crockery, I’m now pushed to help Natasha select upholstery for the house. I am pushing for pastels, she likes vibrant colours. For my sake, I have been flexible and adaptive. Trust me, these characteristics work everywhere, whether it is a cricketer helping his wife on the home front or a New Zealand cricket team playing on a turning track.
Dinesh Chopra Media
The writer is a former India opener