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Martin Crowe - Pitch for bare truth

The Indian skipper played on the minds of Kiwis by electing to field

Wednesday, March 18, 2022
Dhoni's masterstroke

India's bowlers were consistent all day. Maybe Harbhajan Singh bowled a little bit longer early on, maybe the quicks could have carried the load through that middle session a bit more. But it has showed us that it was a good pitch and how badly New Zealand were at the start of the match. India held the advantage all the way through.

New Zealand’s score of 279 is way under par for this pitch, you want at least 400. 

But Mahendra Singh Dhoni provided the masterstroke at the toss because he played on the minds of the New Zealand side. The psychological question for the New Zealand side was whether they could adjust quickly enough from the Twenty20s to ODIs to the Tests with their inexperience and they couldn't. Techniques and their temperaments were all over the place, no one settled in at all. No one provided any resistance. They all just looked completely out of depth, to be fair, for the first day of a Test match.

It was always going to be incredibly hard job to pull this Test match around from the position New Zealand were in at 60 for 6. But Jesse Ryder and Daniel Vettori have given them slight little hope going into the second day.

It will take a little bit of turn but slowly. New Zealand have made a mistake again by leaving out Jeetan Patel again and playing five seamers if you include Jesse Ryder. There is just no need to become so one-dimensional in your strategies. They should have had more bowling options.

Vettori is the captain, he has seen his side drop under his leadership to the last in the world. He is such a gifted and mentally strong human being that he just wants to turn it around. All he can do is ask his players to step up and if they can’t he does, whether it be bat or ball. That is how resilient he is, how resourceful he can be. Unorthodox, but effective, he has got the best average of any number 8 in the history of the game.

So it was no surprise seeing him provide that resistance. At times there was a touch of genius to go through to his hundred and at the same time carry Ryder with him was just brilliant leadership.

Ryder has always shown that he has had a pretty good temperament. When he first came into the side last year, he showed he was very cool and calm. I think he is at the happiest in his life, when he is out there with a bat in his hand. It’s off the field that he tends to get a little lost. But out there he looks good, he is a lovely natural player, uncomplicated. He seems to clear his mind nicely.

He has hardly failed in Test cricket. Now he has four successive scores past fifty in a row which is a record. He is just a good lad.
New Zealand will play it defensively probably tomorrow if they don’t get early breakthroughs. It’s just looks like a very flat pitch from just watching Virender Sehwag play a few shots in the last few overs.

India have the ability to score 350 on that pitch tomorrow in the day. And that gives India the lead, it’s a matter of how many wickets New Zealand can take in that time.

The game’s alive, but India have won the first day and it’s probably going to come back down to the likes of Vettori who are going to carry New Zealand’s hopes if there are any.

But historically in the last five years we have collapsed on days three and four. We just don’t have the mental fortitude to hang in there with the opposition. You would therefore expect the Indians with all their experience will plough on and post a big score. Then go out and try and clean it up pretty quickly.