Ball One – This is a pitch in which no batsman is ever really in, as shown by Sachin’s and VVS’s dismissals, so the slow scoring of all batsmen (with the inevitable exception of Sehwag and a slogging Harbhajan) is hard to understand. Okay, there is so little pace in the wicket that bat-speed is the only way to get the ball through Vettori’s well-set fields, but India’s reluctance to rotate the strike with quick singles is costing them twenty runs or so per session. Okay, that’s unlikely to matter in terms of the result, but a sense of urgency is always useful to carry into the bowling discipline from the batting
Ball Two – Would this match be improved by ball-tampering being made legal? With a lush outfield and flat track, New Zealand have struggled to move the ball laterally through the air or off the pitch. With many other innovations and trials underway in Test cricket (the UDRS for example), there’s a case for allowing bowlers to do what they like with the ball, short of bringing bottle tops on to the ground, and assessing the impact of such liberalism on the matches. This series would have been an ideal opportunity for such a trial.
Ball Three – Just as there is an art in batting with the tail, there’s an art in tail-end batting. Pragyan Ojha showed, as he did in Mohali with VVS Laxman, that he can defend well, but has few scoring shots. With Harbhajan in decent form, Ojha needed to get off strike more regularly than he did – notwithstanding that it was a very decent stand for the ninth wicket.
Ball Four – In many ways, Daniel Vettori is an old-fashioned Test cricketer: He has no mystery ball, but uses flight and changes of pace to earn his wickets. He also attacks in the field using traditional positions like short leg and gully, especially against the new batsman. And, despite the scoreboard, his captaincy has been very effective in producing opportunities, not all of which have been taken.
Ball Five – A modern trend in cricket which I do not understand, is the failure of the bowler to get behind the stumps to gather the ball and effect the run out. After an LBW appeal rejected for an inside edge, Vettori was close to, but not behind, the stumps and missed a good chance to close the innings. There really is no excuse for a slow bowler to be in the right place come the throw.
Ball Six – It’s not just Dan Vettori who is old-fashioned, the match has had an old-fashioned feel to it, with a lot of defensive play and spinners taking eight first innings wickets. In the home of the IPL, it is reassuring to see the old virtues being honoured.
Gary Naylor, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.