Doull: Give Black Caps credit where it's due

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 05:00 02/02/2014
Ross Taylor
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PURE CLASS: Ross Taylor has been exceptional.

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OPINION: As the dust settles on the Black Caps' impressive 4-0 one-day series victory over India, people are going to step back from the table and ask themselves the old familiar questions.

Were India really into it? How much should we read into this series victory? Too often when we are playing poorly, we lay into the Black Caps and talk about how bad they are. But when they start winning, we talk about how poor the opposition is. I think that's the wrong way to go about it with this side.

I think we have to acknowledge how good the Black Caps have been over the past two weeks, and how significant this series win is.

New Zealand have improved, they've found a formula, they've done their homework on India - and they've ruffled their feathers.

Everyone talked up India. Every newspaper article, every television piece, every radio station. Everyone was talking about how good the India side were, and about how terrifying their batting line-up was.

We can't just all of a sudden turn around and say ‘they're not that good' because before they came, they were that good.

From a solid batting spine to an impressive-looking seam bowling battery, this Black Caps one-day team is a very good unit.

It doesn't mean we are going to be world-beaters for the next year, but for this series, the tactics were spot on and everybody did a great job.

Sure, that Auckland game was one that disappointed everyone, despite the excitement of it all. The Black Caps should have won it, and then the series would have been 5-0.

But the way the Black Caps bounced back from that tie was fantastic - and that's something we don't see that often from this side.

We haven't had consistent starts at the top from Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill - but at three and four, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have been exceptional.

The blueprint is to be at that 30 to 35 over mark with around about 150 runs on the board and two wickets down. We've been in that situation four out of five games in this series - and Williamson and Taylor must be acknowledged for that excellent foundation they have built.

That base allows the likes of Corey Anderson, Brendon McCullum, Jimmy Neesham and Luke Ronchi to smack it around when there's not massive pressure on them.

A word must be said about young seamer Matt Henry. He made his debut on Friday night in Wellington, and collected four wickets.

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He's got good pace and it looks like very little can go wrong with his action. Henry bowled some good, quick short balls and ruffled some feathers.

It speaks volumes that someone like him is capable of stepping up from the domestic level, walking into the international fire and handling the pressure.

On Friday night we had Anderson, Tim Southee and Hamish Bennett sitting on the sidelines - while Trent Boult will be back in the mix when the tests begin. You've got to be impressed with the stocks, as far as seam bowling goes.

It's on to the tests this week, and we should expect far improved performances from the Indians.

Seamer Zaheer Khan and batsman Cheteshwar Pujara come into the fold for India, and they will add plenty of steel and experience to the team.

Having a few days off and adding some fresh faces will help India, no doubt. We haven't seen the best of Shikhar Dhawan or Rohit Sharma on this tour - you'd like to think they will be better come the test series.

With the spinners, they can probably put a lot of pressure on New Zealand too - while their quicks can do a bit of damage too. Gone are the days where India have had no pace that can hurry up batsmen.

Despite New Zealand having all the momentum heading into the tests, we have to acknowledge that India will still be the favourites in the longest format.

The gulf in test rankings shows that - but I don't think it will be one-sided by any stretch of the imagination.

- Sunday News

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