Ball One – Zaheer Khan had a good morning, but Simon Taufel had an even better one. He has been the leading umpire for what seems years now, but is still under 40. To be precise, Taufel hasn’t really improvedover time, but looks better, as his colleagues appear to have deteriorated, the effect of which is to make Taufel even more impressive in his decision-making and demeanour. The travel must mess up his family life, so how long he will stay on the treadmill remains to be seen, but we should treasure him while we can.
Ball Two – Jesse Ryder was possibly overly aggressive this morning, but he was not going to allow the Indian bowlers to settle into a line and length with wickets falling at the other end. He has some impressive numbers early in his Test career and has delivered against top sides. He does look a player, even if he doesn’t look an athlete.
Ball Three – It’s hard to see how MS Dhoni has such an impressive captaincy record, as he chases the ball, sending fielders to where the previous shot went and does not pressure the new batsmen. Kane Williamson was a case in point – so soon after the huge mental effort of a debut century, he was bound to struggle, and he edged his first ball on to the pad and up to forward short leg – who was absent. It cost Dhoni only four runs, as the young man was a bit of a rabbit in the headlights and was soon LBW to Zaheer.
Ball Four – With Dhoni giving Tim Southee a single anywhere he wanted (a Number Nine, if you will), Southee ran down the wicket and slogged at Harbhajan Singh to be stumped by yards. Southee has talent with the bat but needs to improve his shot selection and develop a defensive game to go with his fine eye and long hitting. A season in county cricket would do him the world of good.
Ball Five – With New Zealand eighth and India first in the Test rankings, this series really should be a no contest, but we’re into our seventh day of competitive cricket. That’s partly the product of pitches that make batting, certainly defending, relatively easy, but it’s also and indicator that standards across world cricket are fairly even. There are probably fewer great players at their peak than at any time in the last thirty years, but with few players (bowlers especially) able to dominate sessions, never mind days, Test cricket is throwing up some tight contests all over the world.
Ball Six – For the world’s Number One team, India are remarkably poor at observing the game’s basics. In the field, many routine stops are parried and bowlers are reluctant to get back behind the stumps to back up throws. Sehwag presented another example in failing to ground his bat as Vettori threw down the stumps from cover. There was no appeal, as Sehwag looked well in, but slo-mo revealed that he had not completed his run in the prescribed manner, and may well have been given out by the TV umpire. Such lack of attention to detail is unbecoming in a team that sits atop the rankings and will cost them their place unless addressed.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.