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Martin Crowe - Pitch for bare truth

New Zealand have lifted and India have dropped their performance, writes Crowe

Friday, March 27, 2022
Kiwis smell blood

Nothing much changed from Day One, Jesse Ryder was the star of the day. And the Indian team effort was pretty sloppy. There was a resigned feel about what the Indian side were obviously thinking in terms of looking to draw this match and to retain that 1-0 advantage.

New Zealand though had good purpose. I thought they constructed the day well, they scored a lot of singles. They avoided that sort of collapse that can happened every now and then, which can stop them from getting to a total. This is going to keep them in the forefront for at least a day and a half.

And picking up Virender Sehwag was the boost they needed, because they will know that runs won't come as quickly in the next day and a half.

Overall, Jesse Ryder thoroughly deserved the double hundred, which was the 15th for New Zealand. To do it in just his seventh Test match is an amazing achievement. He has been incredibly consistent. He has clearly enjoyed dropping from three to five in the batting order. He just looks so natural out there with his composure, good defence and lovely range of strokes.

Clearly when he got out was disappointed, quite angry which is a good sign because he just loves batting. He is the man who has had a lot of troubles off the field with behaviour and drinking. He has now got that under control because he has got a good group of men around him who are mentoring him especially John Wright.

He realises that he can play at this level. Its been a pretty special two or three weeks. He has been very impressive. All this augurs well for the long term. Along with Daniel Flynn and Ross Taylor, there are some good signs for New Zealand.

But these are troubled signs for India. They have almost taken their eye off the ball. The Virender Sehwag shot was very irresponsible. Gautam Gambhir was lucky to survive a run-out, and the stroke that he played to get out. All this does not become of an experienced side that wants to be No 1 in the world. Their fielding again was just slack. Nothing much changed and MS Dhoni was badly missed.

Sending out a nightwatchman was always unnecessary and shows further muddled and unfocussed thinking.
Now New Zealand have done all they can to stay in the series.

India should look back at the decision to arrive late in Napier. It’s hard to tell if that is what is showing up on the field as well. But this late arrival has gone against the norm. It is normal for you to turn up two or three days before a Test and get used to the climate, settle into your hotel, the practice facilities which are similar to the ones to the ones in the middle.

I don’t know if its arrogance or not, it’s probably ill-planned. No one can predict that Dhoni was going to be injured, but they just seemed to as a group just gone off the boil which has allowed New Zealand to lift their confidence and belief that maybe they can pull off an upset and take the remaining wickets necessary to win the Test.

There is still long way to go because they need 17 more wickets, the pitch is starting to take a little turn, starting to break up a little bit. By the fourth or fifth day it will suit the spinners.

So it’s an intriguing Test match from that point of view. By an large it’s good for the series. That’s my honest take: New Zealand have lifted and India have dropped their performance. And therefore it’s going to be a cat and mouse from hereon in.