The Test match between India and New Zealand at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium had its share of spectacular moments. Our photographer captured some of the finest moments in the match.
It was a Super Sunday for India in the playing fields of Hyderabad and Townsville, Australia. The touring New Zealand side were spun into a defeat while the Under-19 team retained the World Cup.
There is a lot of significance behind both these victories. For the senior men, this win was important after the string of defeats in the last 10 Tests.
It also got them off to a perfect start in the new season with tougher teams in the offing in the next few months.
Refreshingly, India turned in the screw when required and won comfortably. They won the big points by being relentless.
Too often in the past, India let go the initiative through bad bowling or fielding. And removing the lower order was always a major problem.
Despite the constant threat of rain, India clinched the match with a day to spare. The spinners were simply outstanding, with the Hyderabad wicket offering them bounce.
Ravinchandran Ashwin must have been a bit nervous with the recall of Harbhajan Singh to the Twenty-20 squad. His bowling seemed to have lost a bit of zing after a good start.
But his match-winning 12 for 85 has put all doubts to rest.
Cheteshwar Pujara grabbed his chance and played an important knock at the crucial No 3 position. What made his innings special was the temperament he displayed. He batted with patience, was technically sound and willing to play a big innings. His back-foot play was excellent and this will help his batting abroad. Suresh Raina disappointed again. But he deserves a longer run. Too many Indian players have been cast by the wayside due to lack of opportunities.
Good batsmen like Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh spring to the mind. In this regard, it is hoped that Yuvraj, if fit, is also fast-tracked into the Test side this season. He deserves an uninterrupted run to cement a place.
New Zealand need to do a lot of soul-searching. They have not learnt their lessons after the humiliation in the West Indies. Their inability to play spin was cruelly exposed. Their static approach to batting while under pressure proved their downfall.
Only Brendon McCullum and Kane Wiliamson applied themselves and showed how spin can be played. But their contributions were insignificant as the rest, bar James Franklin in the first innings, were just swept away.
Flight is key armoury for a spinner. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha used this weapon to good effect while claiming 18 of the 20 wickets that fell.
And it was flight which played a big part for India’s Under-19 side. Their two spinners, Baba Aparajith and Harmeet Singh, clever varied their flight to confuse the opposition.
India did not start off well. The batting did not fire until the semi-finals. However, the bowling efforts were stupendous. The pace attack of Sandeep Sharma and Ravikant Singh was outstanding. They showed admirable line, length and swing.
India went into the final as underdogs. Their opponents, Australia, had done superbly throughout the tournament. But India turned it on at the right moment. They got early wickets before letting the initiative slip. The target of 225 was a stiff one. Losing four wickets for 97 in the run chase was disheartening. But captain Unmukt Chand scored an inspiring century to guide India through. Chand, like his predecessor Virat Kohli, has shown a lot of potential. So have Aparajith and Harmeet. They are now ready for higher things. The selectors must take notice and ease them into the next level as soon as possible.
India’s cricket is undergoing a change. The time is right for new blood to be infused. Chand, Aparajith and Harmeet, if neglected, may pick up bad habits and stunt their own growth. Develop them now and India’s future will be in good hands.