There are clear benefits to winning the toss on a pitch that will only deteriorate, but it isn't necessarily easy to force a victory. A team needs to score quickly enough to either declare or bowl the opposition out for less. Failure to capitalise in the first innings, or a collapse in the third can negate the fourth innings advantage with a routine chase. As a team India didn't play this game particularly well. Kohli scored 167 and 81, Pujara 119, and there wasn't many other batting contributions. Anderson and Broad bowled well, Rashid took wickets against the tail. But the match was won ultimately at the end of the second day when England collapsed to a run out, a poor shot, and any chance of parity was gone.
England once again batted more overs than India, which says more about their bowling than their batting. The second innings was proper trench warfare that still took in 97.3 overs, including 38 on the final day when they lost 8/71. They made India work for their win, and that bodes well for any possible come back in the series. That disparity in scoring rate makes a huge difference to their respective abilities to win matches however, with England much more likely to draw than win.
The only significant issue for England is Duckett, whose clearly lacking some combination of form and technique. The rest of the middle order have had their moments in this series, and ultimately the issue is probably not the selection but the quality of the Indian spin bowling over England's and the batting of Kohli, Pujara and Rahane. On the one hand that is an easily and often over-turned margin. On the other, they need a player to score big, or a collapse to do so. Right now, the odds are definitely favouring India for both those events.
The scorecard probably understates the closeness of this match, and the difficulties New Zealand overcame in chasing down 108 in the last innings. Historically, scores that low are not chased very very rarely. But historically, the first three innings scoring only 500 odd runs is quite rare too. Williamson's 61 off 77 balls was not only the highest score of the match, but done at a pace that prevented any tension from arising. Raval's 55 and 37 not out in support were also impressive from a player on debut. The other debut from de Grandhomme was similarly successful with 6/41 in the first innings. With support from Boult, Southee and Wagner, and sprinklings of runs from most parties New Zealand were comfortable winners.
Nevertheless, Pakistan's ability to find the edge (if not always a safe fielder) means that they are always a good chance. Their batting was better in England, but a two-test series and little preparation makes tuning it a little difficult. It wouldn't be a surprise if the second test was closer, and New Zealand will need to improve their own batting to win again.
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 24th November, 2016 19:54:06 [#]