India have fire power to win Christchurch Test
The first Test match at Wellington between India and New Zealand was a true test of where a team stood as regards the game of cricket.
The first Test match at Wellington between India and New Zealand was a true test of where a team stood as regards the game of cricket. India, the number one side in the world at present, was completely routed in every department of the game.
The Black Caps, may not boast of the skill and ability that some of the Indian players have showcased over time, but a well-constructed plan was all it took them to beat their strong opponents. The memories of the famous bodyline series comes to mind.
Then England captain Douglas Jardine in 1932 used the round the wicket ploy to destroy Australia with short-pitch bowling, supported by a strong leg-side field. With no field restrictions and the modern protection of helmets, chest and elbow guards, the strategy was criticised for not playing the game fairly.
However, cricket is now far from the gentleman's game of the days gone by, but with a much larger stake to play for, as winning has become a very important ingredient for more reasons than one.
In today's world there is no place for a loser. New Zealand out thought the Indian side with a tactic used nearly 88 years ago. This round the wicket ploy may have been dangerous then, but is very much in the rule book today, especially as the armoury that a batsman has, does protect him sufficiently from any major mishap.
The pleasant sight was to see a backward and forward short leg. These were fielding spots that were gradually disappearing in modern cricket. Earlier, the thought of being hit on the ribs or body, induced batsmen to play at balls aimed at them which resulted in close leg side catches.
The protective gear made this redundant and New Zealand have now opened a can of worms that may become a popular tactic for others to follow suit.
The quality of bats has made off-side play a joy for most batsmen. Apart from an unlucky edge in the slips, any shot played seems to speed over or reach the fence with ease.
Therefore, playing shots on the leg side, does not give the batsmen the same leverage of the full face of the bat as they get playing on the off. The leg-side negative attack was previously used by spinners on the pretext of them exploiting the rough, but it will soon become popular among the speedsters as well.
A two-Test series is too short for a team playing overseas. A side needs to get acclimatised mentally and physically. The limited-overs version of the game is an entirely different ball game as Test cricket requires sustainability, stamina and tactical manoeuvering.
The Indian batsmen, one hopes, have spent their time practicing to counter the leg-side attack that they will be confronted by in the next Test match. The worry, however, is the bowlers, who still seem to be not comfortable with the length they need to bowl in order to be effective.
That is why a five-match series is the best way to actually decide upon a true winner. The initial home side's advantage becomes an irrelevant factor as the series goes on with players adjusting their game accordingly.