India, who rank number one in the Test team rankings, suffered a humiliating loss to the number four ranked New Zealand in the first Test of the two-match series. It seemed to be a repeat of their woeful performance in the ODI series against the Kiwis. Throughout the match, the Indians seemed to be clueless as to how to restrict the hosts.
Ayaz Memon, aka Cricketwallah, perfectly summarised India’s defeat and highlighted the reasons on his Twitter account. He wrote, “Toss was factor in Test but not most crucial one. This was failure of India's Pujara & Kohli in both innings compounded by failure of Bumrah & Shami to give worthwhile support to Ishant. Very rarely have team's best players flopped together in past 18 months, but did at Wellington.”
He added, “Of course Kiwis had home advantage. More imp was how well they'd prepared to thwart threat from India's best players. Wearing down Bumrah & Shami with mix of defence & attack, use of short ball v Kohli, late swing v Pujara etc. Very impressive from team whitewashed by Aus recently.”
The number one problem that plagues the Indian team at present is the inability of the team’s top-order to systematically start India’s innings. They have failed miserably. Even youngster Prithvi Shaw, for whom this series was meant to be the breakthrough, did not inspire in the first Test. Skipper Kohli, after the match, said, “You don't want to be too hard on guys like Shaw. He's played just two overseas Tests. He will figure a way, he will find a way to score runs.”
Even senior team members like Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli failed to prove their money’s worth in the encounter. The problem of a batting collapse has plagued this team since ages, and this Test was not so different. Kohli said, “As a batting unit, we take a lot of pride in being competitive, and we were just not competitive enough. I don’t think we put their bowlers under enough pressure in the first innings.”
Another problem is India’s miserable lower order. Seldom have they managed to play well in the face of a batting collapse. India’s lower order, unlike New Zealand’s (who managed to play very well towards the end), did not even put up a fight. This has been one of India’s biggest problems in overseas conditions.
The bowlers were one good thing that India would take from the first Test. Kohli hailed their effort and said, “The bowlers toiled well, as a bowling group we've taken pride in being competitive. Till the first seven New Zealand wickets, we were really good.”