The two-Test match between India and New Zealand saw a number of good performances from either side in a closely contested battle. Here’s a look at the top performers of the India-New Zealand series.
Brendon McCullum: The New Zealand skipper was undoubtedly the player of the series by some distance. His record in the two Tests says it all – 535 runs in 4 innings at an average of 134 with one double hundred and a triple hundred. In both the Tests, his knocks were instrumental in rescuing his side. At Auckland, his 224 helped the Kiwis recover from a poor start, and put the team on the path to victory. Also, at Wellington, he batted for 775 minutes, which saw New Zealand secure a draw and seal the series. In all, McCullum batted for 887 deliveries during the series, which meant the Indian bowlers just could not dislodge him from the crease.
Shikhar Dhawan: In a lost cause, the left-hander’s return to form was among the brightest spots for the visitors. After beginning the series with a duck, he compiled a measured hundred in the second innings at Auckland. Even though New Zealand won the Test, Dhawan’s knock, at one stage, gave them a genuine chance of winning. He carried on his good form in Wellington as well, where his 98 set up India’s impressive first innings total. He would have been disappointed to have missed out on a second hundred, but with 215 runs from two Tests, he would have been satisfied with his returns.
Tim Southee: The fast bowler brought all his experience in to play to thwart the Indians at key moments in the two Tests. He had figures of 3 for 38 and 3 for 81 at Auckland as he unsettled the Indian batsmen. At Wellington as well, Southee was impressive picking up 3 for 93 and 2 for 50. Significantly, most of his victims were proper batsmen. He maintained a wonderful average of 23.8 and a strike rate of 42.5. Southee’s economy rate of 3.35 was also top class.
Neil Wagner: The left-arm fast bowler was among the most penetrative of all bowlers. In both the innings at Auckland, he was called on to bowl when the team was in search of wickets and delivered on each occasion. In the first innings, he got Vijay and Dhoni before running through the tail. In the second innings, it was he who broke the ominous resistance of Kohli and Dhawan, dismissing both in quick succession. He chipped in with three wickets at Wellington as well, ending the series with 11 wickets at 24.5
Ishant Sharma: A surprise entry in the list considering his recent struggles, Ishant ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the series, with 15 wickets averaging 25 with two five-wicket hauls. At Auckland, he ended with figures of 6 for 134 and 3 for 28, but couldn’t prevent an Indian defeat. He was at his best in the first innings at Wellington when his 6 for 51was crucial in dismissing the Kiwis for 192. However, he went wicketless after 45 overs in the second to undo some of his good work.
--By A Cricket Analyst