Ball One – Was Kumar Dharmasena actually looking for the no ball that Sreesanth delivered and Guptill edged? I suppose he must have been, otherwise he would have denied New Zealand a run, but it’s hard to believe that such a big no ball could be missed. In the end, the TV umpire communicated with the on-field umpires and the correct decision was reached, but what a curious way to do business.
Ball Two – With the new ball swinging and Sreesanth getting some disconcerting bounce, the New Zealand batsmen must have been relieved to see Harbhajan and Ojha on so early. Without a third seamer, even one as innocuous as Ganguly, India look short of bowling on the first day of a Test, even if they are well stocked for the fifth day (if Dhoni declares and lets them have a go!)
Ball Three – Martin Guptill, having missed out on selection in the First Test, must have felt under pressure in early at Number Three, but did little wrong until playing back to Pragyan Ojha on 85 to be trapped in front of leg stump. Although playing back to spinners opens up more scoring areas, there has to be more risk attached to letting the ball spin more. I would like to see an analysis of spinners’ wickets to show what percentage of “playing back” decisions lead to dismissals and how many “playing forward” decisions lead to wickets. My gut feeling is that if batsmen play back, they are more likely to be dismissed.
Ball Four – With aggression much valued in 21st century Test cricket, there’s a feeling that batsmen have to be bashing along at four or so per over and bowlers have to look for wicket-taking deliveries (or, working on a batsman, wicket-taking overs) but this series has given us six days of largely attritional cricket with batsmen working for their runs and bowlers waiting for their wickets. Adjectives like intriguing and fascinating are usually euphemisms for boring, but connoisseurs will enjoy some traditional sub-continental cricket.
Ball Five – Test cricket, especially in the land of the IPL, needs to attract a young audience to safeguard its future. So it was good to see so many schoolkids in the Hyderabad crowd. What is not so good, but inevitable I suppose, was to hear playground squeals when their heroes came on to bowl – rather unedifying for the Greatest of Games.
Ball Six – Tim McIntosh really only has one shot – a pleasing cover drive that he unfurls when the ball is pitched up outside off stump. But he has got guts – not many follow up a pair with a big score – and plenty of concentration. Only a Kiwi would look forward to seeing him bat all day, but that’s his job and if he keeps the bowlers and fielders out on the paddock, he’ll get a bit of luck with his mishits and he’ll forget about the pair.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.