As Harsha Bhogle says, if you play in New Zealand or England, you need to keep an eye on the sky, and in India, you need to see what lies beneath the ground.
On a newly-relaid Eden Gardens pitch that had a hint of grass on it, Indian captain Virat Kohli won the toss and without any hesitation, opted to bat. This was the sixth consecutive time he won the toss at home - the first Indian captain to do so.
Kohli has not lost a single Toss at home in fact, he has not even lost a Test at home and in India's 250th home Test, he led his side to a comprehensive 178-run win against New Zealand at the Eden Gardens. It was a complete team effort which saw India clinching the series 2-0 with a match to go.
Under Kohli, India is now unbeaten for 12 consecutive Tests. Only three other Indian captains have led their teams to longer unbeaten streaks than Kohli. With the victory at the Eden Gardens, India has also become the first team to win both its 250th Test overall and the 250th Test at home.
Here are some interesting bits from the 2nd Test:
India made two changes and selected Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan in place of Umesh Yadav and the injured KL Rahul respectively.
- With Bhuvneshwar's selection, Kohli once again proved that he was a thinking captain and that he had a lot of resources from which to choose to suit the playing conditions. Interestingly, he has now led India in 16 Tests but has not picked a same XI in two consecutive matches.
- New Zealand, on the other hand, were without their regular skipper and batting mainstay Kane Williamson. The Kiwis were being led by Ross Taylor and brought in Henry Nicholas, Matt Henry and Jeetan Patel. This was only the second time that Williamson missed a Test since making his debut in 2010. The only other occasion that he had missed a Test was against the West Indies in Dunedin in December 2013.
The Eden Gardens pitch is known to offer something for everyone and Trent Boult proved it in the first over of the match itself as he generated bounce and swing, moving the ball away from the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan fell in the very next over off the bowling of Henry as he tried to cut a delivery that was too close to his body, only to play it on to his stumps. His woes continued in the second innings as he made just 17 runs, which led many to ask if the in-form Gautam Gambhir would have been a better choice as Murali Vijay's partner at the top of the order.
Dhawan has been struggling for form of late and it has been a roller-coaster ride for him so far in Tests after a blistering debut.
- India were in trouble on day one, losing three wickets for just 46 runs. This was the first time since 1999 that three or more wickets fell in the first session of a Test at the Eden Gardens.
- Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane helped India get out from that difficult situation by adding 141 runs for the fourth wicket which now is India's highest fourth wicket partnership at the ground. The previous record was set by Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman when they scored 140 runs together against the West Indies in 2011.
- During their partnership, both Pujara and Rahane scored fifties. It was Pujara's fifth 50-plus score in first class cricket in September this year, and Rahane has now developed a habit of producing top performances in the second Test of a series. He scored 77 runs in the first innings, though in the second, he was out scoring just a single run. His average of 78 in the second Test of a series is now the joint fourth highest for any batsman to have played ten or more innings.
With the foundation of the innings laid by Pujara and Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha chipped in with an unbeaten fifty and Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Shami came up with useful contributions as India made 316 in the first innings. New Zealand could only manage 204 in reply as they were rattled by Bhuvneshwar's five-for, conceding a lead of 112 runs. It meant India had a clear advantage as they had never lost a Test at home after taking a lead of 100 or more runs.
- Bhuvneshwar and Shami shared eight wickets in the first innings - the most by Indian pacers in an innings of a Test at home against New Zealand. This was Bhuvneshwar's fourth five-for in Tests overall and the first in India.
It was important for India to continue their momentum in the second innings but they lost four wickets for just 43 runs. Kohli had another chance to make an impact, but he made just 45 runs, which now is his highest since the double century against the West Indies earlier this year.
Rohit Sharma, however, came good. Kohli had always trusted Rohit irrespective of his form, and it was time that Rohit repaid that faith, on his favourite ground. He had failed in the first innings, but made a valuable 82 in the second innings, and strung together a century partnership with Saha for the seventh wicket. It was India's fourth century partnership in the last five Tests at the Eden Gardens and it helped India seal the Test in their favour.
Saha scored an unbeaten fifty in the second innings again and became only the fourth Indian wicket-keeper to score two fifty-plus scores in a Test match. He also became the second Indian wicket-keeper and the seventh overall to achieve this milestone against New Zealand in a Test match. Saha is now also the oldest wicket-keeper to score two fifty-plus scores against New Zealand in a Test. He achieved this milestone at the age of 31 years and 342 days.
For the Kiwis, the only positive was the batting of Tom Latham, who showed great determination against the in-form Indian bowlers in the fourth innings, scoring 74 runs. It was his second fifty of the series, making him the third left-handed New Zealand opener to score two fifty-plus scores in a Test series in India after Bert Sutcliffe and John Wright.
The Eden Gardens will also be remembered for the fact that it was the first time that bowlers managed to claim 14 or more LBW dismissals in a single Test match in India. Interestingly, there have already been 26 LBW dismissals in this series - the most in a three-Test series in India. The previous record was 24 in the series between India and South Africa in 1996/97.
The Eden Gardens has a history of helping pacers more than spinners and this time around it was no different as the pacers took 26 wickets out of 40 in the match which is the second highest ever in a Test at the ground. The Indian pacers picked up 12 wickets, which is also the second highest by them in a Test at the ground.
First Published On : Oct 4, 2016 16:03 IST