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New Zealand Tour of India: 5 Takeaways from the Kiwi-wash

Pure agony fuelled 1 Tip 1 Hand’s first ever blog post in August 2014. India’s tour of England was in shambles and Dhoni’s test side was on its way to losing 3-1. Virat Kohli was woefully out of form. The bowlers were ineffective, catches were being dropped and the Indian line-up was collapsing regularly – we even wrote a post about how the Indian test team cannot bat, bowl or field.

We really have come a long way since then.

Kohli took over the mantle of test captaincy after Dhoni decided to retire from test cricket. India actually competed in the test series in Australia. We won a tight series in Sri Lanka. The South Africans were humbled 4-0 in India. The scoreline was 2-0 in favour of India in the West Indies. Most recently, the Kiwi challenge was swept aside 3-0. Finally, Kohli’s India grabbed the no.1 test ranking.

Here’s our wrap-up of the India v New Zealand test series.

5 takeaways from the recent Kiwi-wash

  1. The Pitches – With all the noise and criticism last year on the topic of turning Indian pitches, we think the curators at each of the venues rolled out excellent tracks for test cricket. Each test match went beyond four days and this bodes well for a long home season. The bowlers had to work for their wickets and good batsmen scored runs. Which brings us to…
  2. Cheteshwar Pujara is back – In our preview of the India v New Zealand test series, we had said that Pujara’s performance this year will be one of the keys to India’s fortunes. With all the chat before the series being about his strike rate, Pujara let his bat do the talking against New Zealand. 373 runs with an average of 74.6 is not too shabby. Oh, and as his hundred in the third test showed, he can scored quickly when needed.
  3. Ravichandran Ashwin is the main man – He is just about unstoppable. Top ranked bowler, top ranked test all-rounder, 27 wickets in a three test match series. Add to the wickets his crucial runs in the first innings of the first two tests. No surprise when he picked us his seventh man of the series award in tests (and fourth consecutive award). A fellow off-spinner holds the record for most Man of the Series performances in test matches but Ashwin looks like he is in a hurry to break that record. The next set of visitors to India (England) will need to come up with a plan to combat India’s MVP.
  4. India’s bench strength looks good – India had three different opening combinations for this series. Only Murali Vijay was the constant factor – he was partnered by KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir in the three tests. Each of his partners was injured so it will be interesting to see who will open in the first test against England, most likely Rahul and Vijay will start off. Two fast bowlers were injured/ill as well – Ishant and Bhuvi – but at no point did India’s bowling stocks look depleted. Good signs for a long home season.
  5. Deserved no. 1 team – Despite claims to the contrary by a whinging Aussie (whose team has just been walloped 3-0 by Sri Lanka in tests and 5-0 by South Africa in ODIs), Team India deserve to be number 1 in test matches. The key word here is team – each player (even Rohit Sharma!) has put his hand up when its counted and has contributed to their wins. Kohli’s India is not really carrying any dead weight and look set for a long reign at the top.

For the Indian test cricket fan, there really has been more ecstasy than agony in recent times!

The first India v New Zealand ODI starts on Sunday, 16 October at Dharamsala.

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