The first India vs New Zealand Test went right down to the wire before ending in a nail-biting draw. NZ tailenders Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel batted for 51 balls to deny Indian bowlers the final wicket needed for the win. While the game was a great advertisement for Test cricket, it did leave a sour taste for the fans as they expected the hosts to win. Several experts pointed out flaws and the latest to join the bandwagon is former Pakistan captain Salman Butt.
Butt, like numerous experts, opined that India was a tad too late in their declaration. Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane decided to call his batter back in when the score read 234/7, setting NZ a target of 284 and giving themselves just 15-20 minutes to bowl. With bad light affecting all 5 days towards the end, India could only bowl a few overs. Despite time constraints, they managed to pick up one wicket.
Butt, while answering a fan question on whether India should have declared 20 minutes earlier, quipped that they should have given themselves at least an hour on Day 4 and explained his reasoning.
“I am saying they should have had an hour because New Zealand was not going to chase this total. I am saying this because in the last hour, they could have availed the option of taking a second new ball. On this pitch, the new ball played a few tricks. So, when the tail comes into play on this kind of a pitch, you are ought to bowl with the new ball. Bowl short to them and irrespective of whether it keeps low or climbs over them, it is bound to cause problems. And India had to bowl their overs quickly because of the spinners. They did not leave themselves enough time. Maybe they were thinking what if NZ chase it down that is why they played for so long.
“They gave themselves far too much cushion in getting to 284. India took an hour to score the last 40 runs. They would have gotten an extra 15 overs to bowl had they declared an hour earlier. Then, they could have even gotten a couple of wickets in the evening (of Day 4).
“I always maintain that you should set a total on the fifth day that the other team would fancy chasing down because your chances increase. Leave a total that keeps the opposition interested. If you set a target that only allows the other team to block on a slow pitch, then this sort of thing is bound to happen,” elaborated Butt while speaking in a video on his YouTube channel.
The second Test will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, beginning on December 3.