Ahmedabad: It will pinch New Zealand to have failed to get India on the mat after almost cornering them on the fourth day, but the Black Caps will take plenty of positives from the drawn Test here in Motera.
Coming after a 0-4 ODI clean sweep at the hands of Bangladesh, New Zealands primary concern was to get the team together and oust any negative feeling. Captain Daniel Vettori succeeded in doing that and to give the No.1 Test side a tough fight at the start of the series deserves kudos.
Given the situation we put ourselves in, I think it is a satisfying performance after what happened in Bangladesh. Hopefully, well take the improvement we have shown in the short period of time, Vettori said, on Monday.
The visitors were clearly on top on the fourth day and they hoped to mop up the tail to push for their third Test win in India. But Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman upset their plans with a163-run seventh wicket partnership.
We were happy to put ourselves in that sort of a position (India were 82 for six on day IV). In the morning, we had a talk about the need to be disciplined. But today, we didnt have the penetration that was needed. Martin bowled very well, but you need a couple of guys to bowl short and sharp spells.
Jesse Ryder, on this wicket, would have been more than handful. I think what matters is that you get 20 wickets and capitalise on the start, Vettori said.
New Zealands attack was weakened after they lost pacer Hamish Bennett through a groin injury and Jesse Ryder pulled his calf muscle. With two bowlers short, the Black Caps skipper had to toil even harder struggling to rotate his bowlers as smoothly as he would have wanted.
The biggest positive has been the batting, the way the guys stood up — Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor. And then, obviously, Jesse Ryder and Kane Williamsons hundreds. Thats what you do to put teams under pressure… They understood the conditions and knew what they had to do. That was the most satisfying part for me, he said.
Vettori was all praise for Harbhajan Singhs knock and conceded that there was little his bowlers could do against the Turbanator. Thats what the lower-order batting has come to these days. It is not easy anymore. Some of the shots that Harbhajan played were outstanding and put us under pressure.
I think the key to Harbhajan was that he played his natural game and put pressure back on us. Hes like Sehwag, very aggressive, and he just took the game away. He puts the bad balls away and keeps things simple. I think he played his natural game in a pressure situation, he said.