India won the three-Test Series against New Zealand at 1-0. But the visiting team left a lasting impression on the traditionalists of the game. The Kiwis' marathon effort to force a draw in the Ahmedabad Test on Tuesday sent their stocks soaring.
A team that had amassed 583 runs in the first innings and went on to make a 275-run lead by the third hour on the fourth day of a five-day match, just cannot afford to compromise with a hollow result. But India has done that much to the disappointment of its staunch supporters who firmly believed that India possesses the best bowling side on home soil. New Zealand played its second knock till the end for a score of 252 for two.
All the words spoken and written on the quality of pitches in India became irrelevant the moment a visiting team emerges victorious in a Test match here.
And when a combination bereft of big names-like the current New Zealand team-forces an honorable draw, the very quality of India's bowling department becomes a laughing stock. "How can this happen on a bowler-friendly track" is the question that might remain unanswered for many more years to come.
In the Ahmedabad Test-the third and final of the Series-the moment the home team had achieved a mammoth first innings total by the second day, there was jubilation in India cricket circles. An innings victory for the home team looked certain.
Even when New Zealand fought diligently to make 308 in reply and India chose to play its second innings, a majority of India supporters just could not believe that this Test match might as well end in a draw.
But those who possess the cricket brain to assess the real worth of a side refused to give India a clear-cut chance to win this Test match. "With only three recognised bowlers in Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Venkatesh Prasad, India just could not deliver the goods this time"- was their argument.
It turned out to be so. India bowled the entire day today-the final day-only to be denied success by a determined New Zealand batting line up.