FEBRUARY 29, 2020
Brief Scorecard: New Zealand 63 for 0 trail India 242 (Vihari 55, Shaw 54, Pujara 54, Jamieson 5-45) by 179 runs
The depth in New Zealand’s five-man seam attack pulled India back from positions of strength on two occasions to leave them bowled out for 242, and then their openers knocked 63 off that total by stumps.
While Kyle Jamieson starred on the scoreboard with a maiden five-for, the other three frontline quicks played their part: Trent Boult took the first wicket, Tim Southee took out Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, and Neil Wagner’s short-pitched bowling broke India’s biggest stand of the series.
At 63 overs, India’s innings was shorter than either of their digs in Wellington but, thanks to more positive intent and a quicker pitch, they ended up with a bigger score.
And yet they will be disappointed that despite three fifties from their specialist batsmen, despite lives through dropped catches, they ended up with the third-lowest Test total in an innings that featured three or more scores of 50-plus from the top-seven batsmen.
On an individual level, there was improvement as all three half-centurions made technical or mindset adjustments after Wellington.
Out of sorts with lack of footwork and struggling against the short ball, Prithvi Shaw got his front foot moving and scored a 64-ball 54 to give India a rollicking start.
Two men in the spotlight for their slow going in Wellington and their captain’s subsequent remarks about intent, Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari batted with urgency and purpose in their half-centuries, but aggression got the better of both of them with the team score in the 190s as India lost their last six wickets for 48 runs. Asked to bat once again, India had a tough job in the morning after a delayed start because of an early-morning drizzle.
Shaw, though, went on to show that conditions in New Zealand can look tougher than they are. His forward movement allowed him to track the swing, and his instinctive positive batting remained intact.
As a result, Southee in particular couldn’t bowl the really full swinging ball, and Shaw made merry every time Southee pitched even slightly short of a good length. There was a gorgeous on-drive off the full ball too.
Boult, though, brought New Zealand some cheer by setting up Mayank Agarwal by moving the first four balls of the sixth over out, in, out and in. Pujara showed he was mindful of his attitude to loose deliveries after he was guilty of not always taking advantage of them in Wellington.
To the 13th ball he faced, a full wide one, he threw his hands, ending up slicing it over point. Shaw at the other end made sure Colin de Grandhomme, first-change bowler, couldn’t achieve a repeat of Wellington where he bowled at under two an over.