India head coach Rahul Dravid on Monday commended his spinners for putting up a great show on “quite an unresponsive” fifth-day track with outside edges not coming into play in the drawn first Test against New Zealand. The Indians got nine New Zealand wickets but failed to dislodge the last pair of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel as the visitors managed a creditable draw after being down and out in the post-tea session.
“We showed great composure and fighting spirit and worked really hard in that final session. It was quite an unresponsive pitch on the fifth day and a really good effort to have taken eight wickets after lunch, three in that session and five in the last session. “With a little bit of luck, it would have gone our way I think, guys really fought hard,” Dravid said after the match. What surprised Dravid was the fact that the pitch lacked the bite one finds in this part of the world on the fifth day with minimal turn and almost no close-in fielders — slips, forward short leg, silly-point, or backward short-leg — coming into the picture.
“It was low and slow and probably it didn’t have that much bounce or didn’t have a turn. Probably, you expect a little bit more wear and tear on the fifth day in Indian conditions over the course of five days. This didn’t seem to have that kind of bite,” he added. Dravid then spoke about his assessment in greater detail. “Generally, in India on day five, spinners can challenge both edges — inside and outside. You know you can beat people on the inside edge and get lbw. But honestly, in this game, the outside edge was virtually ruled out,” he sounded a trifle disappointed.
“Even till the last day, none of the edges carried, very few catches close to the bat, I can’t remember, (KS) Bharat took a couple.
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“It sort of made it feel that there is only one way to get people out, bowled or maybe lbw, probably two in the last session. “In spite of that we were able to prise out nine wickets (8) on the last day, but it was tough but we expected it to be tough in Kanpur. I have played here and I know wickets can be tough,” he said. He felt that with the winter setting in, the cracks didn’t open as it would have, say in September or October.
“Usually on day five, you should get a bit more help and cracks to widen up a little bit, I don’t know, maybe it’s winter and that’s why (cracks didn’t open).” People like Tom Latham were able to play more than 400 balls across two innings before getting out and that was because defending wasn’t as big a problem here, said the coach. “It felt like if you wanted to block, didn’t want to score runs, it got difficult to get people out and we saw that.
We have quality guys who were able to make a game out of this and otherwise it would have easily gone on to become a dull draw,” he was all praise for his spinners before signing off.
“It’s a great feeling but winning the game would have been icing on the cake. You can still see that the pitch was intact but our bowlers showed great fight,” said Iyer in the post-match presentation ceremony. He showed a different aspect to his batting as he hung on in the second innings even as wickets kept tumbling. This is something his fans are not aware of as they have seen him playing with all the flamboyance. “My mindset was to play the sessions and play as many balls as possible. People say I am a very flamboyant player but the situation required me to play longer.
So I played for the time. I am really proud of the way we came out from a difficult position.”