It was refreshing to hear Virat Kohli offer no excuses for the 2-0 loss in New Zealand and stress on acceptance of the outcome, but I hope India do address the issues that hurt them badly in probably one of their worst overseas outings of late.
The next Test series isn’t until December, so the temptation to write this off as a one-off could be overwhelming. But if India wants to avoid a repeat of this display in Australia later in the year, they can’t afford to gloss over what transpired in New Zealand.
I am sure the batting group would be hurting, especially, since they take a lot of pride in preparation but were caught napping by New Zealand’s gameplan for two Test matches in a row. I agree the conditions were tricky and challenging, but that’s no reason why there shouldn’t have been a greater application from the batsmen. New Zealand’s plans were straightforward enough – to get swing with the new ball and make use of the lateral movement and, should that fail to produce wickets, to resort to the liberal use of the short ball.
Ajinkya Rahane’s tortured stint in the second innings in Christchurch best illustrated India’s confusion. For an experienced and accomplished batsman who has scored runs all around the world, Rahane seemed all at sea against Neil Wagner and Kyle Jamieson’s short-ball barrage, and tried to hit his way out of trouble. On that surface, it was a method never designed to succeed.
The other aspect that stood out was a repetition of mistakes from the same batsmen. Virat was trapped leg before to the ball coming in twice in the second Test, Mayank Agarwal fell in similar fashion in both innings in Christchurch to Trent Boult inswingers, Prithvi Shaw was cramped up and dismissed fending balls following him in the second innings of both Tests.
Test cricket is an unforgiving cauldron where there is no room for tentativeness. India’s technical and mental frailties were badly exposed by a New Zealand side that looked out for the count during the T20s, but that knows how to win at home better than most other teams.
It was great to see Jasprit Bumrah return to somewhere near his best after an iffy ODI series. I can’t really fault the bowlers because the batsmen didn’t put enough runs on the board, though they will feel they should have done better than concede stands of 66 and 103 to openers Tom Latham and Tom Blundell in the two innings in Christchurch.
They also gave away too many runs to Kyle Jamieson specifically, and the lower order, in both first innings, a big factor in a low-scoring series.