The unofficial two-Test series between India A and New Zealand A held in India may have ended in a 0-0 stalemate, but both teams should be pleased with the kind of performances they put up during the course of the two matches. The batting from both sides was particularly impressive, and the youngsters who did well should take the confidence to go on to better things in their career. Of the two sides, New Zealand definitely would be more pleased since they have traditionally struggled in sub-continent conditions, especially in India.
New Zealand had three centurions over the course of the two Tests, an achievement in itself -- Luke Ronchi made one in the first Test while Corey Anderson and Anton Devcich made tons in the second Test. There were significant contributions from the others as well. Tom Latham and Carl Cachopa got half centuries in the second innings of the second Test. Impressively, New Zealand’s lower order also stood up to the Indian bowling. Doug Bracewell missed out on a ton by four runs at Visakhapatnam and even number 10 Ish Sodhi got a half-century. Similarly, in the first Test at Todd Astle registered a fifty batting at number eight.
New Zealand’s bowlers did not fare badly either. Astle grabbed three wicketsin the only innings of the first Test. In the second match, Mark Gillespie and Doug Bracewell shared seven wickets among themselves. The duo’s impressive performance wasn’t surprising since they have represented the Kiwis at the top level before. Both Gillespie and Bracewell would be hoping that their respective efforts open the gates of international cricket for them once again. Like in the first Test, Astle made an impression in the second match as well capping a reasonably good tour for him.
Akin to New Zealand, most of the gains for India were also in the batting department. Vijay Zol made a striking first-class debut with a neat century even as skipper Abhishek Nayar registered one of his own in the opening Test. Manprit Juneja was exceptional in the second Test with his 193 while opener VA Jagadeesh missed out on a well-deserved ton, falling short by nine runs. If there is one criticism that can be made of the Indian batting, it is that only a couple of batsmen stood up to the Kiwi bowling in the series. Unmukt Chand failed in both the tests, which was a major disappointment, and the rest did not do much as well.
Looking at India A’s bowling, Jalal Saxena was the standout performer. His six-for in the opening Test was a highly valuable effort, and he was among the wickets in second game as well. Among the others, Rakesh Dhruv made a few significant inroads even as Dhawal Kulkarni displayed his skills with four wickets in the second Test. Overall, India A did not perform badly, but being the home side they were expected to be a bit more dominant. On that basis, New Zealand A can claim psychological victory.
--By A Cricket Analyst