Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner, chased every ball when he came out to bat for New Zealand in the final session of the day’s play. The right-hander scored a breezy 29, laced with three fours and two clean sixes, and pushed New Zealand’s score with Mark Craig, who scored at a slower rate, but contributed 33 lower down the order. The pair helped New Zealand post a first innings total of 324/7 before the captain declared the innings and put Mumbai in to bat, with a minimum of 13 overs left to be bowled.
Before the pair got together, New Zealand didn’t go after everything but played some fantastic knocks. Six out of the nine batsman to take crease had strike rate in excess of 70, and as many as 44 boundaries and 10 sixes were hit in the visitors innings.
Yes, the Mumbai attack was on the inexperienced side but the Black Caps had a plan in place. An approach which will likely be their template for the series ahead. Mumbai had plenty of spinners — five to be precise (regulars, part-timers combined) — but none had the bite to test the visitors, on a wicket which had very little assistance for the bowlers.
And, the approach helped.
There was no rocket-science involved there. It was as simple as ‘look to score runs.’ More often than not, teams have come to this part of the world, defended against the spinners and have dug in deep. But the ones who have looked to score, have succeeded. More often than not.
During the 49 overs of spin bowled to them, not once did New Zealand look to just play out the over. The batsmen were assured with their footwork and kept the Ranji champions under the pump.
From Martin Guptill to Ish Sodhi, they came and looked to score runs.
The morning session kept the Mumbai seamers interested but once spin was introduced, surprisingly, it was New Zealand all the way. Blame the quality of the bowlers or applaud the application by batsmen, it was visitors who called the shots for the remaining 66 overs.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu had a nice shape going against the right-hander but after the early success — the wicket of Guptill — he was dealt with ease by the Kiwis. He did come back to remove Kane Williamson but it was a wicket which he wouldn’t want to take credit for. The right-hander chased a wide delivery and could only edge it to Aditya Tare his second, and what turned out to be the last, catch of the match. Post that the seamer kept it tight but failed to make any additions to the wickets column.
It wasn’t the seamers who hurt Mumbai. The spinners did. Vishal Dabholkar and Vijay Gohil — the two left-arm spinners — leaked runs from both ends and failed to test the visitors during their spells.
Dabholkar, the first change bowler, was taken to the cleaners in his first spell. His figures, after bowling five overs, read a miserable 0/39. Not evence once did he go past the bat or created an opportunity. The line wasn’t consistent and the lengths he bowled were comfortably dealt with by the Kiwis.
Vijay Gohil was similar so was the leggie Parikshit Valsangkar. It wasn’t an ideal warm-up but definitely a reality check for the Mumbai unit who will be defending the Ranji Trophy title, on neutral venues this time.
For New Zealand, Latham (55), Williamson (50), Ross Taylor (41) and Santner (45) had good hits in the middle and would like to do more of the same if they get another opportunity to bat in the three-day warm-up fixture.