New Zealand played some exceptional cricket to overcome India in the first Test of the series at Auckland. There were a few Test and turns over the four days, but New Zealand, every time they were in trouble, found heroes to overcome the situation, and eventually they won the Test rather deservingly. We pick five men who made the major difference to New Zealand’s fortunes at Auckland.
Brendon McCullum: The New Zealand captain for sure has a liking for the Indian attack, He has struggled to come up with big scores against most other top sides, but against India he always manages to raise his game. The Auckland Test was no different. His double hundred was a spectacular effort under the circumstances. McCullum came in to bat with his side in all sorts of strife at 30 for 3, and was dismissed last man out having taken his team past 500. McCullum’s 224 lasted 462 minutes and featured 29 fours and as many as five sixes. In spite of the pressure New Zealand were under, McCullum remained rather positive. This reflects in his strike rate of 73. In terms of balls, McCullum’s 224 came off merely 307 deliveries, a brisk pace under any condition in any situation, a captain’s knock for sure.
Neil Wagner: The left-arm fast bowler would have run his skipper close for the man of the match. He picked up four wickets in each innings and never allowed the Indians to settle into any kind of rhythm. In the first innings, he got the key wickets of Murali Vijay and Dhoni before polishing off the tail. Then, in the second innings, he made an even more telling contribution. He broke the dangerous partnership between Virat Kohli (67) and Shikhar Dhawan (115), which was threatening to take India close to the target, by dismissing both in quick succession. Later in the innings, when Dhoni and Zaheer Khan were thwarting the Kiwis and taking India ever closer to the target, he sent back both of them as well.
Kane Williamson: The talented batsman had a dream run in the one- dayers, and he continued with his good run in the Auckland Test as well. New Zealand had lost their openers cheaply in the first innings and needed someone to steady the ship. Williamson did exactly what was needed in the company of his skipper McCullum. Before the Kiwi captain went berserk, Williamson it was who brought New Zealand’s innings back on track with his 113, which featured 10 fours and 2 sixes and lasted 172 balls. By the time Williamson was dismissed, New Zealand had progressed to 251 for 4.
Trent Boult and Tim Southee: As a pair, Boult and Southee proved to be extremely efficient picking up three wickets each in both innings. Every time New Zealand needed a wicket either Boult or Southee came in and delivered. In fact, Boult and Southee’s tight bowling enabled Wagner to put India under further pressure.
--By A Cricket Analyst