At a loss of words to explain India’s poor performance, batsman Shikhar Dhawan today conceded that New Zealand have turned the tables on his side in the ongoing second cricket Test, but insisted that the visitors still have a chance to not just save but win the match.
The hosts took a 325-run lead at the end of the fourth day’s play at Basin Reserve, with skipper Brendon McCullum scoring an unbeaten 281. But Dhawan chose to stay positive after what was a disappointing day for Indian bowlers.
“There is still one more day left tomorrow. We will try our best to win but even if we lose, there’s a lot to learn from it. There is disappointment but we have played some good cricket, especially getting them out for a low score in the first innings,” Dhawan said after the day’s play.
“Then we batted well in tough conditions and basically dominated the match till yesterday. But today they turned the tables on us. Tomorrow in the morning, we will look to get them out and then whatever the target is, we will bat according to the situation,” he added.
McCullum was involved in a world record stand of 352 runs for the sixth wicket with keeper-batsman BJ Watling (124). The duo thwarted Indian hopes of victory on the third or fourth day, after the hosts were reduced to 94/5 at one stage.
“The wicket has improved a lot. It has gotten slower as the game has gone on. McCullum and Watling batted beautifully of course. They respected the good balls and didn’t give us any chances the whole day. They batted very well,” Dhawan said, praising the batsmen.
The pair might not have given any major chances during the day but McCullum did offer an outside edge that zipped past Dhawan at third slip, whilst no one else was present in the slip cordon. He was also dropped twice on the third day by Ishant Sharma and Virat Kohli, the latter a simpler chance.
“For that moment that’s what we had planned, to go in with one slip and one gully. We wanted McCullum to hit a few shots. But when the slips were there, he wasn’t hitting many shots. When they weren’t there, a nick came and unfortunately I was a bit far,” Dhawan said about that edge flying past him.
“We bowled in good areas and were patient. Their run-rate was low but they didn’t give any chances. Once the batsmen get set and they score big runs, it isn’t easy to get them out. And they applied themselves very nicely as well. Unfortunately we dropped McCullum yesterday and paid a heavy price for that,” he added.
It was not a great day for Indian cricket as the team was kept on the field for more than six sessions. At times, the game seemed to meander a bit as the players looked out of ideas as to how to get the batsmen out.
“It was the same wicket yesterday and then the attack bowled very well. They did a great job on a third day wicket and got half the team out.
“We planned accordingly to the situation. After bowling all day, the bowlers get tired too. So we were just looking to bowl in the right areas and looking for them to make mistakes,” he said.
“We kept attacking throughout the day, even when McCullum was batting on a big score. At the end of the day, there was a
bit of defensive field because we needed to save runs too,” added the opening batsman.
It sets up the final day of the tour brilliantly with India still looking for their first win on this trip.
“On the first two days we dominated the match. Today it was a totally different day and it was a long day for all of us. In the morning, we came with the mindset that we will get them out and then bat to chase down whatever runs are needed.
But it didn’t go our way. We have to take it in our stride and see what happens tomorrow,” Dhawan said.