The impasse has hurt India. No breakthrough in the first two Tests, the visitors have stood up admirably and underlined how India need to sort out their pitches and bowlers. Both issues are interlinked. Good pitches of course help poor bowlers.
But good bowlers also "improve" the outlook on a poor pitch. The game has countless folklore where competent bowlers have hustled and outwitted batsmen on dead tracks.
Unfortunately, the majority of bowlers today don't have the commitment to swim against the tide.
They find it easy to shift the blame on featherbed tracks.
Only good competitors, such as Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, Daniel Vettori and Chris Martin try to stand up to the test.
Now that Zaheer is missing from the line-up for Nagpur, India have a dilemma. Should they "doctor" and look for a result-oriented pitch? Or should they opt for a safer course and allow batsmen to once again indulge in a run feast?
A bolder approach has the potential to cost India the Test and the series. In Zaheer's absence, it's a possibility to ponder.
Losing to the No. 8 ranked side wouldn't look all that pretty. More so, when there is a World Championship bout against South Africa on the horizon. The clash between the No. 1 and No. 2 sides would thus lose its sting.
India would extend their record of being unbeaten in a Test series for the last two years. Who knows Sachin Tendulkar might after all get his 50th century, or Rahul Dravid his 200th Test catch.
These were the original missions at the start of the series. But India would still lose face. New Zealand would thus mock the hosts' prowess, having come and gone undefeated. TCM