New Zealand came to India with high hopes, including that of improving their numbers in Test cricket against India on the latter's turf.
However, their record ironically worsened due to their inability to tackle the might of the Indian spinners for a sustained period of time throughout this series, which resulted in them failing to bat till the 100th over of their innings even once in this series.
As a result, the three-match series ended with a whitewash in the hosts' favour. This was the first occasion that any team has whitewashed New Zealand in a Test series of three or matches since 2005.
As the late Richie Benaud once said, the hallmark of a great captain is the ability to win the toss at the right time, and Virat Kohli has been proving that statement, at least as far as Tests in India are concerned.
Under Kohli's captaincy, India are yet to lose the toss in a Test on home soil, and that is one of the primary reasons behind their unbeaten run in their backyard. How the Kiwi batsmen will play Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and how their spinners will bowl in the series were some of the questions that were posed to the visitors before the start of the series, the answers of which can be found in statistics at the end of the Tests.
Here is a statistical review of the recently-concluded India-New Zealand Test series:
The pitch at Kanpur was the toughest one for New Zealand batsmen in this series, losing the opener by 197 runs. At Kolkata however, it was their pacers and batsmen failing to utilise the conditions like their opponents due to which they surrendered the second Test by 178 runs.
Going into the final fixture, they should have adapted to the Indian conditions by then, but there was barely any change in the story, losing it by a margin nearly double of that in the previous games — by 321 runs to be precise.
Here’s look at the players who were most successful with the bat in this series.
Cheteshwar Pujara finally found his mojo in Test cricket, bringing up his eighth Test century in the second innings of the final Test. In the same match, Virat Kohli became the first Indian captain to score two double centuries in Test cricket, and his record partnership with Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings drew comparisons between them and batting legends Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman.
Ravichandran Ashwin is breaking records in Test cricket day-in and day-out, becoming the second Indian bowler after Harbhajan Singh to take two ten-wicket hauls in a Test series. Ravindra Jadeja and other Indian bowlers also supported him well throughout the series, which played a pivotal role in the hosts completing the clean sweep. For New Zealand, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner picked up 10 wickets each.
The following table gives a comparison of 'pace vs spin' for the two sides in the series. Indian bowlers outdid their counterparts in both categories. That Indian spinners performed better than their New Zealand counterparts in familiar conditions was a foregone conclusion even before the start of the series, but what was surprising was the vast difference in the performance of pacers in the two sides.
While New Zealand’s batsmen found Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami too hot to handle in the series, New Zealand’s pacers barely made any impact on the Indian batsmen.
It will be interesting to find how the openers, middle-order batsmen and tailenders performed in the series. India clearly had the edge in all the three groups as can be seen from the tables below:
The partnership comparison between the two sides makes for an interesting read as India were ahead in all categories, and India’s average 10th-wicket partnership is better than that of New Zealand for the third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th, a reflection on one of the reasons why New Zealand lost the series.
Here’s look at the statistical highlights from the third Test match between India and New Zealand at Indore:
- Kohli became the second Indian captain to score two double centuries in Tests. His 211 is the third-highest by an Indian captain in Tests and the second-highest by any captain against New Zealand in the format.
- Kohli and Rahane put up a 365-run partnership for the fourth-wicket in India’s first innings in this Test, which became India’s highest-partnership for that wicket in Tests, eclipsing Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman’s 353-run stand against Australia at Sydney in 2003-04. This was also the fifth-highest partnership, for any wicket in Indian Test history.
- This was the second instance for India when their both their No 4 and No 5 batsmen made 150-plus scores in the same innings of a Test. The other instance was in the aforementioned Sydney Test in 2003-04, with Sachin Tendulkar producing an unbeaten 241 batting at No 4 and VVS Laxman scoring 178 runs at No 5. In this Test, Rahane made 188 runs in India’s first innings, which is his personal best in Tests and also the fourth-highest by an Indian batsman batting at No 5. The record is held by Laxman, who scored an unbeaten 200 against Australia in 2008 at Delhi.
- Ashwin picked up 13 wickets in the final Test while giving away 140 runs, which are also his best match-figures. His previous best was also against New Zealand – 12 for 85 at Hyderabad in 2012. The 7 for 59 that he recorded in the second innings happens to be his best innings haul in the format. He has now picked up six ten-wicket haul in Tests, the second most by an Indian after Anil Kumble’s eight. Additionally, he picked up his fourth 12-wicket haul in this match, which is the joint second-most by any bowler in Test cricket. Sydney Barnes, Fazal Mahmood and Rangana Herath share the honour with him, while Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan leads the table with six of such hauls.
- Ashwin won his seventh 'Man of the Series' award in just 39 Tests. This was also his fourth consecutive award in Tests, as he became only the third player after Imran Khan and Malcolm Marshall to achieve this feat. Ashwin also won his seventh 'Man of the Match' award after his extra-ordinary bowling performance in the third Test.
- Ashwin picked up 27 wickets in this series, which is the second most by an Indian bowler in a three-match Test series after Harbhajan Singh who took 32 wickets from three Test series against Australia in 2000-01. Ashwin’s 27 wickets is also the second most by any bowler in a three-match Test series against New Zealand. The record is held by Waqar Younis who took 29 wickets against the Kiwis in 1990-91.