New Zealand won the sixth consecutive Test series at home. The sixth one could have been the toughest of them all as they were playing against the top-ranked Test team in the world, however, in contrast it turned out to be relatively easy as they won both the Tests comprehensively, first Test by 10 wickets followed by a seven-wicket win in Christchurch.
For sticking to their guns and making most of the home advantage, New Zealand awe-inspiring performance and engineered strategies must be credited.
In contrast, Virat Kohli-led India failed to leave a mark with bat in the first innings after being asked to bat in Christchurch. With the bowlers pulling things back for the visitors, they went into the second innings with a slender lead of seven runs but another lackluster outing for the Indian batsmen meant India were staring at another series defeat in New Zealand.
Another key facet to Black Caps' victory was their execution of plans to keep the Indian skipper quiet throughout the Test series. Kohli's form withered as the series progressed and he ended up having the second worst Test series of his career in terms of average.
Tim Southee was the hero for New Zealand with the ball as he used his swing, variation and acumen to strangle Indian batsmen and helped New Zealand register its second clean sweep over India in Tests after 2002/03.
He finished the series with 14 wickets, during which he became the first bowler to take 300 wickets across formats in New Zealand. He was also adjudged Player of the Series for his strong performance.
Young India opener Prithvi Shaw demonstrated technical flaws in his batting in Wellington that raised few concerns, but he came back in style and showed keenness to score runs in the second Test. With his knock in the first innings, he became the second youngest Indian player to score a Test fifty in New Zealand.
New Zealand pacers proved to be the difference between both the sides. The trio of Southee, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson exemplified that the famed-Indian batting line up can be put under pressure and exposed their frailties against the short ball while also bowling long spells of unerring line and length.
Neil Wagner joined the trio for the second Test but even though he did his bit from time to time, the left-arm quick wasn't required to bowl the long, unending spells that he is known for. Colin de Grandhomme’s role as a part of the bowling unit cannot be undermined. The medium-pace bowler's subtle swing and tight lines ensured a leash on the scoring and also provided rest for the quick bowlers. De Grandhomme picked one-wicket each in either Test, including the prized scalp of Indian captain. The efforts and the way the pace-unit complimented each other engineered India’s downfall.
India’s next Test assignment will be down under later this year till then they will be busy playing limited overs cricket but this series did unearth few questions which India will have to address in the coming months.
Virat Kohli amassed 218 runs on this New Zealand tour – the lowest for him on a tour where he played in all the three formats. His previous worst was 254 runs which he scored against England in 2014.
Virat Kohli has now been dismissed by Tim Southee 10 times in international cricket – the most times any bowler has dismissed Kohli across formats.
During the first Test of the series, Ross Taylor became the first player to play 100 matches in each format of the game.
The first Test victory of the series was New Zealand’s 100th Test win. They took 441 matches to achieve the feat which is the most matches taken by a team to complete 100 Test wins, eclipsing India (432).
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The 53-man Pakistan squad will undergo further tests on Monday and in the meantime they remain confined to their rooms after permission to train while in isolation was revoked by New Zealand authorities.
Taylor, 36, though admitted that it would be a challenge to go on for another three years and sign off at the mega-event.
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