India tour of New Zealand 2014: Top 10 highlights
New Zealand celebrate their 1-0 Test series victory over India © Getty Images
It was a memorable series for New Zealand maintaining a clean record in the seven matches they played across two formats. Abhijit Banare recaps the highs of New Zealand and lows for India.
New Zealand beat India in both the Test and One-Day International (ODI) series. It was a tour that saw New Zealand dominate, although India did have their moments. Let us revisit some of the memorable moments of India’s tour to New Zealand:
1) Indian batting brittle against quality pace
When a toddler learns to walk on his own, there’s a different level of satisfaction for the parents. The Indians had just learnt to stand still with the ‘Gen next’ turning out to be a solid batting order having won seven One-Day International (ODI) series on trot.
The loss in South Africa was just a blip: but the susceptibility of the batting against quality pace was once again exposed with the top and middle-order failing to fire; and in Suresh Raina India found their new casualty thanks to his consistent embarrassment against the short ball. The knife had just started to point out against the openers as well.
Kane Williamson showed that he is dependable in both formats © Getty Images
2) Kane Williamson the Mr. Dependable for Kiwis
It’s interesting how the a new set of young cricketers are not just about slam-bang cricket but the ones with an equally strong defense who can play the traditional drives more conveniently than the slog over mid-wicket. Kane Williamson‘s poetic batting was a delightful watch. And the trademark shot of dancing down the wicket lofting over extra-cover was too much for the kings-sized confidence of an Indian spinner. And apart from all that made for a great watch, Williamson also became the second batsman to score five consecutive half-centuries in a five-match series.
Brendon McCullum showed his tactical acumen in the ODI and Test series © Getty Images
3) Brendon Mccullum’s captaincy
Here’s where the catch of the ODI series was. McCullum had two ducks in the first two matches. But that was not going to affect the way he outsmarted MS Dhoni time and again. The key moment was annihilating the batting where it usually flourished the most — late onslaughts by MS Dhoni which usually gave wins in dramatic finishes for India. And ironically if you thought captaincy was about ‘Midas touch’, Dhoni won every toss in the series and failed to register a single win.
New Zealand won the ODI series 4-0 © Getty Images
4) Shaping of a fine ODI squad: the 4-0 win
A 4-0 win against the ODI Champions is no mean achievement. They didn’t just defeat India: they thrashed them. Kane Williamson’s stupendous form and consecutive tons by Ross Taylor were the key highlights apart from a disciplined effort from the bowlers. New Zealand had announced their resurgence with this win.
An unsung hero of this series was Nathan McCullum. Indian batsmen love taking on the spinners, and throughout the series India hardly gave themselves a chance by losing quick wickets. Still, the likes of Virat Kohli and Dhoni tried and occasionally found success against Nathan McCullum.
Ravindra Jadeja helped India tie an ODI © Getty Images
5) Sir Jadeja – the batsman
Keeping the jokes apart, Ravindra Jadeja had been in the centre of attention for his failure with the bat and the wickets tough to come by in not so favourable conditions. The oft-ridiculed all-rounder set things straight in his own way with sensational 66 from 45 balls. It was calculated slogging at its best with Jadeja playing some breathtaking shots to keep India alive in the series. He followed it up with another half-century and then followed it up with the onslaught in the chase of 407 which made the match dramatic. He may have failed to sustain his temperament in Tests but Dhoni can be assured of some runs in the matches to follow.
Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Ishant Sharma were the major positives to emerge from the Test series © Getty Images
6) Shikhar Dhawan — a gutsy application and Ishant Sharma — irony of a quality bowler
Both men were terribly out of form in the ODI series: Ishant was excluded while Dhawan’s confidence kept dragging him deep in to the sea against short balls. The left-hander was low on confidence, but it was a fine application from Dhawan to tone down his aggression and play a fighting knock in the second innings of the first Test scoring a ton. He further emulated that it wasn’t a fluke by scoring a 98 with similar approach in the Wellington Test under conditions favourable for the pacers.
On the other hand, Ishant, after being hurled with abuses and jokes for his poor form in Tests and ODIs bowled a fine spell in the first innings of the Wellington Test to register a career-best six for 51. His line and length made one wonder whether he deserved all the brickbats. It’s a catch-22 situation for the selectors and the captain to keep him in the scheme of things after all the fine results he produced in the Test series.
Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson celebrate during their 221-run stand in the first Test © Getty Images
7) Brendon McCullum-Kane Williamson’s 221-run stand
A dropped catch by Murali Vijay to let off an in-form Kane Williamson was enough for him to stitch a 221-run stand along with McCullum which changed the course of the first Test. Williamson scored 113 while McCullum scored 224.Though India fought back in the second innings, but they had given away a handy advantage to the Kiwis which was eventually enough for them to seal the Auckland encounter.
Trent Boult was amongst the wickets © Getty Images
8) Different faces of the New Zealand pacers
It’s interesting to note the quality of pacers that emerge from New Zealand despite having a limited talent pool. Barring Tim Southee, the bowling in Tests bears a different look than the ODIs. Yet the results remain the same. Trent Boult and Tim Southee together hunt as a pair, followed by the strike bowler Neil Wagner.
Wagner has taken the most crucial wickets in the two Tests. As the Kiwis climb the ladder in Test cricket, these pacers will have more value than they currently garner in international cricket. Wagner and Boult got together to script that dramatic 40-run win in the first Test. And they were not short of keeping the batsmen on the hook in the second. Boult’s ability to make the batsmen play at the start of the innings was extremely vital as it increased the chances of a wicket.
BJ Watling (left) and Brendon McCullum’s mammoth 352-run stand saved New Zealand in the second Test © Getty Images
9) 352 runs that spelled doom on India
Undoubtedly the most dramatic moment of the series: at 94 for five, trailing by 152 more, it would take more than a bizarre dream to believe that this Test would end in New Zealand’s favour. The pair batted for eternity, tormenting, grinding and forcing Indian bowling into submission. They first fought hard on Day Three to take a six-run lead and then killed the competition on the fourth day. While BJ Watling was dismissed for 124, the pair had already registered the highest sixth-wicket stand in Tests.
Brendon McCullum celebrates his triple ton © Getty Images
10) Grand finish to the series by Brendon McCullum
Every resident around Wellington seemed to have dropped in to watch the historic moment. It is one achievement to score a triple ton, but it takes some miraculous abilities to defy pain and pressure to bail your team out from 246 runs behind and virtually put the team in a winning position. McCullum’s innings will go down as one of the greatest in New Zealand’s cricket history. There were many statistical achievements surpassed during the course of the innings. But none would match the happiness on the face of each New Zealand spectator and the inspiration this innings has been for New Zealand cricket. The match nevertheless ended in a draw but the fifth morning was brightened up with the maiden triple ton and the century on Test debut by James Neesham.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)