Stern test awaits Williamson and Taylor against formidable Indian bowling unit

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24 Nov 2021 | 08:33 AM
authorAnirudh Kasargod

Stern test awaits Williamson and Taylor against formidable Indian bowling unit

Here's a statistical preview for the first Test between India and New Zealand

After nearly two months of intense T20 action, the focus finally shifts towards the red-ball format as India play two Tests against New Zealand before they head to South Africa. A clean sweep in the three-match T20I series should give India a great load of confidence. As for New Zealand, the return of their senior-most players, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will be a massive boost.

However, as Taylor said in his virtual press conference, “Definitely looking forward to, definitely going to be a challenge. I think there is no harder assignment than playing India at home or Australia away. They are probably the two toughest challenges in Test cricket at the moment. But as a group we are looking forward to that and we know we are the underdogs but we will be looking forward to putting in a good performance," Taylor further added "Any time you play India at home, you will always be the underdogs whether you are world no.1 or not."

There lies a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Williamson and Taylor to guide New Zealand’s new generation of batters. In any case, they themselves have troubles facing India in their backyard. Heading into the first Test, here are a few highs and lows of both the teams statistically:

Bowlers impeccable record at home

Every team tends to excel in their home grounds for the obvious reason. But, India in the recent past has been excellent. Indian bowlers at home have bagged wickets at a bowling strike rate of 39.6 and an average of 19. They are the only team to have a strike rate less than 40 and average lesser than 20. The most astonishing aspect is, pacers have a better strike rate than the spinners. If the spinners have bagged a wicket every 43.1 balls, the pacers have picked up a wicket every 34.2 balls.

Ross Taylor’s biggest Test

The leading run scorer of New Zealand in Tests, Taylor has endured a torrid run against Team India in India in the longest format. Overall, against India, Taylor has averaged 34.8 in 27 innings, the second lowest against an opposition for him in Tests. When it comes to playing in India, the average drops to 25.5 as compared to his average of 47.8 against them at home. His average of 25.5 in India is also the second worst for Taylor in a host country. Overall, Taylor has only four 50+ scores (50s – 1, 100s – 3), again the second lowest against an opposition. The 37-year old has failed to record a half-century against South Africa in 13 innings., which is the worst for him against any opposition. 

A drought in Pujara’s century count

For a long time, Cheteshawar Pujara was deemed as the second version of Rahul Dravid because of the similarities in the intent and nature of both the batters. When it comes to home matches, Pujara (56.3) has an upper hand in terms of average as compared to Dravid (51.4). However, in recent times, especially since 2018, things have gone south for Pujara even at home. From 2010 till 2017, Pujara averaged 63 and scored a century every 5.5 innings. But, since 2018, he has averaged 34.5 in 15 innings without a century. Including the last two innings in 2017, Pujara now has played 17 innings without a century at home, his longest streak without notching up a three-figure mark at home. Previously, twice he had suffered a 11 innings barren streak, once from November 2015 till October 2016 and another from November 2016 till March 2017.

Ajinkya Rahane’s year of misery

The vice-captain and the stand-in captain for the first Test of this series, Rahane, has had a lean patch in 2021. In 19 innings this year, Rahane for the first time has averaged less than 20 in a calendar year. Among the top six batters of India who have batted a minimum of 15 innings in a calendar year, only Murali Vijay (18.8) in 2018 has averaged lower than Rahane.

Umesh Yadav a deadly weapon at home

Being a fast bowler in Asian conditions is one of the most daunting tasks. Pitches where spinners dominate the most, Umesh has been one of those bowlers who has excelled more in India rather than away matches. Overall, in home Tests, Umesh has bagged a wicket every 45.7 balls, which is the second best after Mohammed Shami (42.4) among Indian pacers with 25+ wickets at home. Furthermore, in Tests since 2018, Umesh has bagged wickets at a bowling strike rate of 24.3 in home Tests, the best among all bowlers who have picked up 25+ wickets. It’s just not the spinners that New Zealand have to be wary off, but Umesh is also one among them.   

A country where New Zealand struggleFor a non-Asian team, India is definitely one of the most difficult countries to conquer. New Zealand are one among those teams who have been hit the worst among the top nations. In the 34 matches they have played so far in India, they have won only two with a win/loss ratio of 0.125, the worst for them in a country. On the other hand, India have a win/loss ratio of 8.000 against New Zealand at home, their best against a team whom they have suffered at least one loss. Against Sri Lanka, India have never lost a match in 20 home Tests.

Williamson’s difficulties against India

Making his debut against India in India and scoring a century in his maiden appearance, Williamson made a name for himself in the early stages. As time went by, Williamson became one among the greatest batsmen of the modern era. But, when playing against India, Williamson hasn’t been his usual self. By averaging 39.4 against India in Test, which is the lowest for him against an opposition, India is one amongst the two teams which he averages less than 40.   

(Image credit - BCCI)

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India vs New ZealandNew Zealand tour of India, 2021IndiaNew ZealandRoss TaylorIshant SharmaUmesh YadavKane WilliamsonCheteshwar PujaraAjinkya Rahane

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