Notes from India New Zealand day three
Batting slow, Ishant's last last Test, pollution and the shifty wicket
Just some random notes from the first few days of the Test.
The go slow
The more I learn about Test cricket, the more I am angered about why fans obsess about slow scoring. Perhaps because I was one of them once.
There are reasons to score quickly in Tests at times. But the idea is to score as many as you can not as fast as possible. There are times to put pressure on the bowlers, positive intent changes what the plans are against you, and if you can score real fast you can change how the game is going. But scoring quicker is riskier than going slow. New Zealand were 151 for no loss, they did this at 2.28 runs per over. Had they scored at three an over it would have been 200 runs. But, would they have been no wickets down.
No one has scored quick on this track so far. And it wasn't about to be Latham or Young.
Most players score around three runs an over; almost none score slower than two an over, and few go quicker than four an over. So the rates hover around three. Latham and Young both score at slightly slower than three runs an over in first class cricket, And just a bit slower again in Tests. Most of their first class cricket is in New Zealand, often against domestic attacks. In this innings Latham was against R Ashwin, the best bowler to left-handers in history. Will Young was in his first Test in Asia, against a great five-man attack. They both did this on a wicket that's set up for slower scoring.
New Zealand's innings wasn't poor because they scored slow. The two openers gave them a huge start. New Zealand would take 151/0 off 100 overs every first innings. Young scored at a perfectly acceptable rate until India started bowling well, and then slowed down. That's what you're supposed to do.
Latham had positive intent all the way through his innings, he certainly wasn't dead batting the ball. I'm not sure if he missed a chance to steal a run to mid on. And he had a plan to score runs that involved sweeping and paddling, and when he saw a chance, he took that. But he faced Ashwin over a third of his innings, where he struck at 27 against Ashwin, dragging his overall rate well down.
No one else passed 25. You can moan about Williamson or Blundell's strike rates. But Williamson knows what is required on most pitches, and by the time Blundell got stuck, the kiwis had collapsed.
New Zealand isn't behind because they batted slow; two guys made more than 25 runs. They knew they needed a lead of 100, and they set in to bat as long as they could, but their middle order collapsed. And that wasn't because the pitch had changed, it had played up about the same the entire time.