According to a local cricket enthusiast from New Zealand, the soil of Basin Reserve deck was as dry as it had ever been, due to a recent drought in Wellington. As a result, there was turn and bounce for the spinners. The grass on the pitch was cut to 18mm instead of the normal 25 mm. The match was scheduled to start at 11:30 am instead of the normal 10:30 am, avoiding the first hour where it tends to swing the most.
— ICC (@ICC) February 24, 2020
From the above scenario, it seems that New Zealand tried their level best to help India, but still, the visitors were gunned down by New Zealand. A ten-wicket win indicates how poor the Indians had been throughout the first Test.
— Nibraz Ramzan (@nibraz88cricket) February 24, 2020
There was a green-tinge on the wicket, grey sky above and typical wind at Wellington with which most of the Indians of the current team are accustomed to as they visited here before. The ball moved and bounced, but it behaved due to the skill of a six feet and eight inches tall Kyle Jamieson, who was playing his first-ever Test.
The Indians played their last couple of series against weaker sides like West Indies at home and away, Bangladesh at home and a shaky Proteas unit at home. The going was easy where the Indian batters scored heavily and fetched wickets at will with the Indian captain facing a lesser amount of stifling challenges. But at Basin Reserve, the scenario had been different – none could escape from developing a stress ulcer.
The absence of Neil Wagner will be a big factor in the first test though I believe Kyle Jamieson could create an impact too. Tells you about the depth in the New Zealand fast bowling ranks
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 19, 2020
Jamieson moved and bounced the ball from a length, which was forward and back and his ability to straighten up the ball after delivering from wide off the angle posed a threat consistently. There was one delivery on the first day, which climbed vertically at Ajinkya Rahane, lifting him off his foot and then there was another one, which came towards his neck forced him to twist midair – the kind of job, which Neil Wagner use to do, but Jamieson did not let his absence felt. It seemed, the fans were witnessing a new version of Morne Morkel.
India capitulated cheaply and when wickets were tumbling all around, the eyes were fixed on the Indian captain Virat Kohli to lift the spirits under adversity. But he let all down by playing a shot away from his body – he completed half part of the trigger movement and attempted for a cover drive away from his body.
Losing the toss & batting in first innings of the match:
S Smith- 12 inn, 884 runs, avg 88.4, five 100s, one 50
Root-15 inn, 576 runs, avg 41.14, one 100, Three 50s
Williamson- 20 inn, 689 runs, avg 34.45, one 100, five 50s
Kohli- 12 inn, 303 runs, avg 25.25, two 50s#NZvIND
— Rohit Yadav (@cricrohit) February 21, 2020
Such a stroke could be executed against West Indies or Bangladesh at home, but at Wellington, such an attempt would invite nothing but trouble. It dented the confidence, which was evident in the second outing as well.
Then Kohli’s captaincy moves came under scrutiny as well.
Virat Kohli is someone who loves to think out of the box and attack, but not sure what made him think not to put a deep extra cover for Ashwin while he was bowling against Kane Williamson, whose wag and wheel shows, he is a prolific scorer through that region.
Then, Kohli brought on Ashwin to operate with the second new ball being just 4 to 5 overs old with New Zealand 7 down and leading by 50-plus runs. This move allowed Grandhomme and Jamieson to stretch the lead. Kohli might have forgotten, Jamieson is a very good batsman.
Kohli is known to be an attacking captain, but these two moves don’t do justice to his captaincy skills.
New Zealand took a handy lead and India’s dismal batting display repeated in the second outing – they were cheaply shot out for below 200 runs and the home team bagged a thumping victory by 10 wickets.
It’s not the end of the world for India as still one more Test to go. India have time to ponder over their mistakes and rediscover their lost mojo. But the momentum is with New Zealand.