New Zealand won the Edgbaston Test by a convincing margin of eight wickets to register their first series victory in England since 1999. As a result, the Kiwis jumped to the number one spot in the ICC Test rankings, making the hosts look ordinary.
While it’s true that England’s tactics have been all over the place but it’s still a mighty win for the Black Caps and clearly a warning sign for India ahead of the big World Test Championship (WTC) final.
New Zealand’s win on the fourth day also means that they will get the much-needed match practice and an extra 1.5 days of rest, before the final on June 18.
So what makes Williamson and his men such a dominant side?
Let’s have a look:
The secret of New Zealand’s success has always been their strong bowling unit, where each player has a clear role to play. While on one hand, Tim Southee and Trent Boult provide the experience, on the other hand, the likes of Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson bring raw pace with consistency. Jamieson has been particularly dangerous bagging 36 wickets in his first six Tests and generating disconcerting pace and bounce from the wicket. Henry has also been impressive picking up six wickets in the second Test and troubling the batsmen outside the off-stump.
With the two left-armers in Boult and Neil Wagner, it offers a variety to the Kiwi attack. In English conditions, Boult has the ability to swing the ball sharply in both ways and can also extract seam movement off the pitch, giving quite a challenge to the batsmen. In the two Tests against England, New Zealand bowlers forced the Englishmen to play more often than any other innings in the series. According to cricviz stats, the Kiwi pacers also dominated their English counterparts in terms of average swing found in this series, finding more than twice as much movement.
Coming to bench strength, New Zealand made six changes to their side going into the second Test and still managed to win the game comfortably. Sixteen of the 20 wickets they took were shared between Boult, Henry and Ajaz Patel, none of whom played last week. Then there is Will Young, who fitted in seamlessly at Edgbaston and was the top-scorer in this Test, with scores of 82 and 8. Yet he will have to sit out for the World Test Championship final, another sign of the Kiwi bench strength.
New Zealand beat England in England and that too without their regular captain Kane Williamson. So if India takes them lightly it will be fraught with danger.
New Zealand’s fielding is vastly underrated at times but they enjoy quite a fair amount of success as a fielding unit comprising Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santer, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult and the skipper himself. Instances of dynamic fielding changing a match have occurred quite often and if players are more equipped to move well in the field it can make a big difference. In every innings, they end up saving 15-20 runs and that accumulates into quite a significant number at the end of the series.
Opener Devon Conway made quite the impact with a double-century on his debut. 306 Runs for Conway in this Test series, the second-most by a New Zealander in the debut Test series. Along with Tom Latham, he has already shown how dangerous they can be.
But what also makes New Zealand’s batting so strong is the wealth of experience in the middle-order, who are equally impactful, in the form of Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, and Henry Nicholls. All the three are well adept at playing spin.
They are followed by all-rounders Colin de Grandhomme and keeper-batsman BJ Watling who can turn the tide in a jiffy with their lusty blows. Pacer Matt Henry also showed his expertise at Edgbaston with the bat smashing three fours during his short stay at the crease.
With two Tests under their belt, Williamson’s men would have gotten used to the English conditions, especially the Dukes ball which will be used for the WTC final. Hence, they will be better prepared and favourites to win the contest.
Rahul Sadhubelieves that sports does not build character but reveals it… read more