New Zealand v India Test series: Talking Points

A look at how New Zealand broke through India in a two-match Test series.

Indian batsmen came a cropper against Trent Boult & Co. - GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand took exactly 47 minutes to wrap up India's second innings at Christchurch on Day Three, its openers chasing down 132 without much ado. It was perhaps a fitting way to seal the series as Kane Williamson's men were by far the better team in both the Tests.

Coming on the back of a 3-0 loss in the One-Day Internationals, India had a lot to prove, especially in the Tests — testing conditions, wind factor and playing on green surfaces.

What contributed to the failure in both Tests was the abject surrender by the top-order batsmen. The lower order was also unable to shoulder the responsibility of batting.

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To add to the woes, for the second Test, India lost Ishant Sharma who could use his height to extract the extra bounce and rattle the batsmen. New Zealand's five-man pace attack proved too hot to handle in cold conditions and India's three-man attack failed to hit the right lengths.

Here's a look at how a relentless New Zealand broke through a brittle India.

Kohli's lacklustre form

Kohli's form was the biggest talking point of the series, with the skipper having scored only 38 runs from the two Test matches. The dip in form is being dubbed as his worst since Australia toured India in 2017, when Kohli just scored 40 runs in three Tests. His poor show saw him drop five points in the ICC Test Rankings and lose the top spot to Australia's Steve Smith.

Kiwi pacers Trent Boult and Tim Southee constantly exploited Kohli's apparent weakness in dealing with inswingers and it seemed to be a repetition of India's tour of England in 2014.

The pacers fail to shine

The pace attack, with the exception of Sharma, largely disappointed at Basin Reserve. Bumrah, one of those responsible for India's emphatic maiden win in Australia last season, seemed like a shadow of his former self.

Returning from a long break after having tended to a stress fracture of the lower back, the pacer returned with just one wicket in the first Test. Things, however, changed for the better in the second Test as he pitched the ball much fuller, ending up with five wickets. The pace was somewhat back, too.

Shami, too, appeared pedestrian in Wellington. Like Bumrah, he appeared deceived by the green cover and bowled the wrong length for the surface. In the second Test, however, he also pocketed five wickets.

Sharma's absence in the Christchurch Test, owing to the recurrence of an ankle injury, hurt India's chances further. The lanky pace bowler, who took five wickets in Wellington, seemed the only one hitting the right line and length. Umesh, who was brought in as his replacement, could get India only two wickets from two innings in the second Test.

Kyle Jamieson — an all-rounder on the rise

Some say he is a batsman-turned-bowler, and some term him an all-rounder. Irrespective of the tag, the 6'8''-tall pacer impressed all, excelling with both bat and ball. He scored 93 runs and took nine wickets.

On Day Two of the second Test, when India's bowlers finally started striking regularly, Jamieson, coming in at No. 9, initiated the rescue act alongside Neil Wagner. The Kiwis were struggling at 177 for 8, but thanks to Wagner and Jamieson, they got to within touching distance of India's first-innings score of 242.

Southee and Boult breathe fire

Kohli, at the post-match presentation ceremony, observed, "New Zealand bowled in the right areas long enough and created a lot of pressure."

Southee and Boult led the attack; the Kiwi pacers, armed with unplayable inswingers, shared 25 wickets among them. Southee even bagged the Man of the Series award for his 14 wickets.

Pant or Wriddhiman?

Rishabh Pant's inclusion raised a few eyebrows as many believed Bengal 'keeper Wriddhiman Saha would have been a better choice. The Delhi 'keeper did impress with the gloves, but hardly added any value with his batting to the middle order. With scores of 19, 25, 12 and 4, Pant struggled with the bat throughout.

In the second innings of the second Test, with wickets continuing to tumble at the other end, Pant could have chosen to play an explosive innings to unsettle the Kiwi pacers. The batsman, however, adopted a defensive approach to deliveries outside off-stump. The manner of his dismissal was no surprise either — a soft edge which carried to the 'keeper. Was Pant playing according to the situation or trying too hard to shed his cavalier approach?

The batsmen fail to deliver

India's top-order and middle-order batsmen failed to come good.

Prithvi Shaw, with the exception of the first innings of the second Test, disappointed. Mayank Agarwal seemed clueless throughout the second Test, with many wondering why Shubman Gill was left to warm the bench. The late swing on the ball bothered Kohli and all of India's middle-order.

Cheteshwar Pujara bided time but runs didn't flow from his willow and Ajinkya Rahane was all over the place in the second Test. The only high point for Hanuma Vihari was his 70-ball 55 in the first innings of the second Test.

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