India did a great job on unresponsive pitch: Dravid 

The pitch at Green Park didn’t have the bite expected from Indian pitches on Day Five and the bowlers bowled well in the circumstances, says head coach Rahul Dravid. 

Dravid felt the bowlers had only two methods of getting batters out on Day Five – bowled or lbw – and it was a handicap for them.   -  PTI

India head coach Rahul Dravid praised his bowlers for nearly handing the team a win on Day Five here on an unresponsive pitch. New Zealand’s Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel resisted for 8.4 overs after the ninth wicket had fallen as the first Test was drawn.

Dravid felt the bowlers had only two methods of getting batters out on Day Five – bowled or lbw – and it was a handicap for them. “Just the facts of the pitch were that it probably was low and slow, probably didn’t have that much bounce,” Dravid said.

“It didn’t have turn. You probably expect a little bit more wear and tear on these wickets in Indian conditions. Over the course of five days, just didn’t seem to have that kind of bite. Generally in India on Days Five you can challenge both edges. At least your spinners certainly can challenge both edges, both the outside edge for the catches, and the inside edge – when you can beat people on the inside edge and get lbws. Honestly, in this game, the outside edge was virtually ruled out. Even till the last day, none of the edges carried. There were very few catches close to the bat. It felt there was only one way to get people out: bowled and lbw. I think we did a great job, inspite of that we were able to prize out nine wickets on the last day. But it was tough,” he said.

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Dravid had no complaints about the way the Indian team went about its task on the final day. “I think the guys were very good and they made a very good effort to take eight wickets after lunch. Three in that session and five in the last one. Really run the game close,” he said.

Ashwin was at the vanguard of India’s effort to defeat New Zealand. His six-wicket haul in the contest meant he was now the third most prolific wicket taker among Indian bowlers, going past Harbhajan Singh’s tally of 417 wickets. And he did it in quick time, too, in his 80th Test.

Dravid lauded Ashwin for his achievement.

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“Harbhajan Singh was a really fine bowler, someone I played a lot of cricket with. Terrific bowler for India, and what Ashwin’s done, to be able to go past him in just 80 Test matches is a phenomenal achievement.

“Ashwin has been an absolute match winner for India, even today you saw on this difficult wicket, the way he pulled us back in the game on the third morning with that spell of 11 overs was phenomenal. And then today, just to keep us alive in the game, constantly be threatening on wickets like this is a tribute to his skill and ability. He’s just evolved, kept growing, he’s one of those guys who keeps thinking about the game. And that’s why he has got where he has. It’s a pleasure to have him in the dressing room and work with him,” Dravid said.

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Lot of effort in the draw - Williamson 

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was elated at having pulled off an escape and called it an “exciting day.”

“That’s the beauty of Test cricket really. There can be a lot of excitement in a draw, and for us coming into the day it was trying to bat long periods when we’re up against a very strong side in that of India – a formidable attack. It was trying to take the game as deep as possible and they managed to take a few wickets and put us under pressure along the way, but a number of valuable contributions got us to that point. And obviously, when the win was out of the question, a draw was the next best option was draw, and there was a lot of effort in trying to achieve that,” he said.

Williamson said his team had braced up for a tough day ahead when Tom Latham and Will Somerville came out to bat in the morning.

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“We knew that it was going to be a real scrap throughout the day, scoring was tough. We knew it was going to be a few bits and pieces to deal with in terms of balls keeping a bit low or a bit of turn, whatever it was, you knew you had to deal with it. It was a really good fighting effort to bat out the day , once again against the amazing spin-bowling attack that certainly is a threat in these conditions.”

The question of whether or not to go for the runs to try and get to the fourth-innings target of 284 didn’t bother the team much, Williamson said, as the first priority was to take the day deep first.

“Coming into the day, we knew that all three results were still possible, but having said that, there was a lot of hard work to try and give yourself a chance to chase vs trying to chase too early and finding yourself in a stinky position, so it was a matter of trying to take the day deep, and then if we got close, then we would have had a crack at it if we were in a position. We weren’t in the end; India were able to put us on a lot of pressure throughout the sessions,” he said.

The pitch may not have crumbled as much as expected, but Williamson said it was a good Test wicket.

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“It is only in recent years that we’ve seen these surfaces the Tests not going five days. In my first tour, the Tests did go five days. There were large first-innings totals and things. It was a fantastic Test match that had everything. It’s hard to complain about [the pitch]; the result was just one ball away,” he said.

Williamson praised a number of his players for their performances in this Test, and he felt Tim Southee’s spell in the first innings was the best he had seen him bowl in the Indian subcontinent.

“[Southee] was incredible. There wasn’t a lot of pace to play with but he was able to change his angles and certainly was immaculate in his length, and created opportunities for us which is really special. He was certainly at his best and it was really great to see.”

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