Wellington, Feb 18: Despite his team overwhelmingly crushed by New Zealand during the tour, India skipper Mahendra Singh on Tuesday put up a brave front, saying it was "quite a good performance" by his team in the Test matches.
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It turned out to be a disastrous tour for India as they remained winless, losing the ODI series 0-4 and the Test series 0-1. The visitors ended the ignominious tour of New Zealand today by drawing the second and final Test here.
"Overall, quite a good performance. We have been improving right from South Africa. We have shown that we are a side that's very talented," said MS Dhoni at the post match presentation ceremony.
"We did well in the series, in this Test because we fought back pretty well ourselves. We bowled the right areas, which I think is very important on the flat wickets," he added. Having bundled out the Black Caps for 192 in the first innings and taken a 246-run lead, India looked like winning the second Test, as they reduced New Zealand to 94 for five in their second innings.
But Brendon McCullum (302) staged a remarkable fightback and together with BJ Watling shared a world record partnership of 352 runs for the sixth wicket to take the hosts to safety. "In the first Test our second innings was brilliant. And then we came here won the toss and bowled really well in the first innings. In the second innings also we got a good start till Brendon and Watling came in. I dont think it was bad bowling but it is just that they kept the good deliveries out," the Indian skipper explained.
"Appreciate what Brendon and Watling did, soak up the pressure when we were bowling well and score freely once the bowlers tired," he said.
Dhoni was also all praise for his bowlers. "We had to field for two, two and a half days and I must appreciate the way the bowlers took the challenge. Even when the third new ball was taken, they ran in hard and looked for wickets. They were willing to go on. I think they did whatever they could. At the end of the day we will accept the result."
Asked to sum up the tour and Dhoni said he was disappointed with the team's performance in the One-dayers. "We are quite disappointed with the ODIs because we were in a position to capitalise but we couldn't. The Test series, we knew it would be slightly tough because there are not many players who have played more than five, six or seven Tests, which means it is always a good exposure for all of them. But I think we did well, especially the bowling department.
"Quite a few people wondered if we could take 20 wickets, especially with the spinner not getting too many wickets. But we showed that in the first Test and even in the first innings here. We have been improving, the pace at which it is happening we can be a much better side," he said.
The Indian captain said he was looking forward to coming back to New Zealand for the World Cup next year, which will be jointly hosted by Australia. "It's a fantastic country, the atmosphere was very good. Wickets in the ODIs were on the flatter side, good bounce, small outfield, so it's entertaining for the fans. They appreciate good cricket, enjoy the opposition's success too. Overall, a fantastic venue to play cricket and enjoy cricket. A bit tough at time but that's what international cricket is all about.
"I always loved New Zealand and we are looking forward to coming here next year for the World Cup," said Dhoni.
"To witness Brendon's innings was fantastic and the way the crowd appreciated his effort, it was good to watch...Not as an opposition captain but as a cricket fan," he added. Meanwhile, New Zealand skipper McCullum, who became the first Kiwi batsman to hit a triple-century and stage an incredible turnaround to clinch the two-match series against India, said he was embarrassed to overtake Martin Crowe.
"It was very satisfying, very respectful of all the guys I got past. Almost embarrassed to go past Martin Crowe. It is incredibly humbling to get my name there and score the first triple. Thanks to all those who supported me through it all, especially the boys. It's been very special," said McCullum, who bagged the man-of-the-match award.
McCullum passed the previous New Zealand record innings of 299, set by Crowe 23 years ago. Applauding his team, McCullum said, "It means a lot to us, we talked the other night when we found ourselves in a precarious situation. But we didn't want to end such a good summer on a sour note.
"We knew we had some scrappers and the whole team did not want to let the opportunity go by. Real test of where we are as a team and the development we've showed has been very pleasing to us and to the fans. There is still got plenty of work to do but we are getting there."
He said it was satisfying to win series against quality opponents like India. "To come back from being under so much pressure against some tight bowling. We are going to enjoy this moment. Test series wins don't come around too often especially against good teams," stressed McCullum. Singling out players for special praise, McCullum said, " The emergence of Corey (Anderson) and (Jimmy) Neesham, they've been a revelation and Rosco (Ross Taylor) and Kane (Williamson) with the bat. I can't talk highly enough of the energies the bowlers have put in over the last two summers.
"In our own conditions we're a pretty strong team and will be looking to improve. The crowds have been brilliant. We haven't often been the most consistent team, but this one is for you," he concluded.