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Martin Crowe - Pitch for bare truth

This is probably the best Indian team to have travelled to New Zealand, writes Crowe

Sunday, March 22, 2022
India can clean up 3-0

As expected the better side clearly won, comfortably really and I don't even think they were at their best. But it was a very professional, efficient and polished display based around Sachin Tendulkar. And good seam bowling on the first morning that really sort of set up the win. From 6 for 60 it was going to be very hard to recover from in anyone's book.

Apart from letting things drift in the end, I think Mahendra Singh Dhoni led his side very well. They thoroughly deserve to be 1-0 up. India has the ability and potential to clean up 3-0 if they want to, if they are motivated enough. Which they should be because all this helps in the rankings and they would want to be the No 1 side in the world. You have to got to be able to put these minnows away. New Zealand have to be regarded as one because they are just playing very poor Test cricket.

From the first hour of the Test match, New Zealand just showed they were amateur, lacking experience. They are trying hard and there is a lot of potential there in the side but they are all too young and they have all been thrown at the deep end, due to so many retirements. With players over the last three-four years being disillusioned with the way John Bracewell's gone about it, we now have a side that has to look long-term.

Issues around selection were clear. Leaving out Jeetan Patel was a mistake, not having Tim Southee a specialist swing bowler in the side was a mistake. James Franklin in the side at No 6 was a mistake because he has clearly has not proven himself to be a top-order batsman, because he has never been one. Daniel Vettori should consider whether he himself should go upto No 6 or whether Brendon McCullum should go upto No 6, that allows them to bring in Patel and keep three seamers using Jesse Ryder as the fourth seamer.

Even if they do make these changes, I don't think they will be good enough to test India in good conditions. Napier will be a Test match with a good pitch which will take turn with the summers out later in the match. So again it should suit the Indian team with their all-round ability.

This is probably the best Indian team to have travelled to New Zealand. There is no doubt about that it it is the best Indian side that I have ever seen. Since 1976, when they won here last, they had wonderful players Sunil Gavaskar, Surinder Amarnath, Viswanath, obviously Bishen Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna, all magnificent players. It is the best Indian side since then.

I am certainly surprised that it has taken India 33 years to win a Test match here. When you consider Kapil Dev and I don't think he toured here that much. But with his abilities to win a game and he didn't do that. There have been some great players who have come here from India in those 33 years. So it is a surprise.

New Zealand were always difficult to beat especially through the 1980s with Richard Hadlee around. Always difficult to beat in conditions that suited medium-fast bowling and therefore negate India's strength which is their spin. The ball nipping around and bouncing has always been difficult for Indian batsmen to handle.

This is a different Indian side and in the 1980s, this team would have been difficult to beat as well.

Therefore Vettori has to be a little bit more proactive by getting himself up the order. It would certainly concern him that his bowling is dropping off, I think he looks to be weighed down by it all. He looks tired, he has just become a father. And yes, the losses will be mounting up on him. We understand that there is a little bit of rift between the selectors and what the captain thinks. At the time they need to sort that out, if that's the case. But losing as badly as this won't help his mindset at all.

Vettori probably needs to have a shave and start again.