The pre-, and in many cases, post-series assessment of India and New Zealand's relative levels of ability are not borne out by the rankings. India have increased their lead at the top, defeating New Zealand by marginally more than expected in the first two tests and by a larger margin in the third. Bar the fourth innings of this match their batting held up well, without providing the sort of runs they'd need to win. Similarly, barring the first innings here, where Kohli and Rahane produced a 365 run partnership, they largely kept India in check. But New Zealand needed to play better than their rating suggested, and India worse, was there to be an upset. India played consistently well throughout, and in Ashwin (13/140 here, 27/480 in the series) they have a match-winner.
No disrespect to them, but New Zealand aren't that strong a side, who are undoubtedly worse without McCullum and Southee, playing in conditions they have little experience in. The result was near inevitable, provided they couldn't find enough runs to draw a match - a relative rarity in modern cricket. Boult had a decent series, incidentally, and only in the final test did the Indian batsmen make hundreds. New Zealand made none, and even Williamson averaged below 35. India will be hoping for more from Yadav, and their openers but they look well placed for England's tour; a side that bats similarly deep and makes up for a lack of spin with a solid pace attack.
For a team that made 3/579 in the first innings, Pakistan made hard work of this match. Partly this was from some resilient West Indian batting, with Bravo making 87 (258) and 116 (249) with support from Samuels and Holder. The grinding meant that despite batting 232 overs against only 187 for Pakistan the West Indies came up 56 runs short. The West Indies might have got closer if they'd bowl better, as every bowler leaked runs at an alarming rate. That they managed to get close enough to scare Pakistan came down to Bishoo taking 8/49 in the second innings - though not without luck as Pakistan tried to build a lead.
Ultimately, given the timing of the victory and the margin, Pakistan batted, declared and collapsed almost exactly as they needed to. The top order of Sami Aslam (90), Azhar Ali (302*), Asad Shafiq (67) all average in the 40s and there is batting below. Yasir Shah was somewhat over-used, but eventually broke through. But their ranking drops, as they missed expectation, and could drop back below England in future test matches.
For the West Indies, this result may be as close as they'll get, but after the mostly dispiriting matches against India, making Pakistan work for a victory is a big improvement.
The bad news for England is that it is going to be very difficult to beat the margin against Bangladesh. Their one day performances indicate a side that is more competitive than at any time in the past; but without a test match in over a year, their ranking won't yet show it. The good news is that their game weight is as low as 6, compared to England's 21, so any rating adjustments will fall largely on the home side.
The most promising sign for Bangladesh is the increasing frequency of first innings leads. Having not had a lead batting second until 2012, they've now had one in 5 of their past 11 attempts, with five draws and a win (over Zimbabwe) in the same period. They've been less successful batting first, but if they can continue to be competitive in the first innings it is only a matter of time before it translates to victories across both. England, whose record against spin can be patchy, are not the guaranteed victors they were on previous tours.
Sometimes the form table is a more reliable guide, and in this case it points to a Namibian side in deep decline from the days when they were challenging for associate trophies. P.N.G. are definitely an improving side, and they are finding their feet in the longer format. Assad Vala (144*) scored his third century in four matches, and he anchored the islanders' score of 311. Only Sarel Burger (52*), inexplicably batting at six, prevented a complete disaster as Vanua and Siaka (contributing much more with ball than bat) rolled Namibia for 146.
Scholtz completed a 10-wicket haul (11/170) in Papua New Guinea's second innings, but they had already set an insurmountable target and Vanua and Siaka were again the key wicket-takers in a comfortable fourth day victory. Papua New Guinea rise to fourth in the table. Their ranking has a way to cacth up, but form would put them just below Hong Kong, 100 points below Scotland, while Namibia would be just above Canada. If they only played enough matches to keep the ratings accurate.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don`t play each other.
Idle Summers 20th October, 2016 21:39:05 [#]