John Wright, the former New Zealand captain and coach, has urged his countrymen to sort out their technical difficulties in their heads on the eve of the second Test against India in Bangalore.
New Zealand had a torrid time in Hyderabad, where they were bowled out for 159 and 164 to lose by an innings and 15 runs, with R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha accounting for 18 wickets. Wright, who stepped down as New Zealand’s coach after the West Indies tour, hoped the visitors' batsmen would sort themselves out mentally before applying themselves on the field.
"Yes, Ashwin and Ojha were formidable but unless you are thinking positively about how you are going to counter them both mentally and technically then you are starting on the back foot. The questions that should arise when faced by tough bowling are simple ones - what are my best scoring boundary options? Where do I get a one? What balls do I need to defend?" he wrote in the Asian Age.
The former captain and coach singled out Ashwin and Ojha for their spin dominance at home in four Tests.
"Above all, though, you have to reach a stage where mentally as well as with your stroke play in attack and defence, you can dominate them. Not the other way around by letting them dominate you. Can this be achieved by New Zealand in the time for Bengaluru? I hope so because the Kiwi batting lineup is far more capable than what it showed in the first Test.
"If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? I hope each individual in the Kiwi team is thinking along those lines. Any improvement between their two Tests versus India has to start with the mind."
Wright, who coached India for five years, was impressed with the youngsters in the Test line-up and singled out Ashwin and Ojha for their "amazing" bowling. "For India, the first Test ticked all the boxes. [Cheteshwar] Pujara came through as an absolute natural replacement for Rahul [Dravid]. Maybe they even look alike. Virat [Kohli] slots straight in for [VVS] Laxman, with some smart close in catching too. MS [Dhoni] steadied the ship with savvy captaincy," he wrote.
"It was not only the bowling of Ashwin but his batsmanship too that was vital. Never underestimate runs from number 8 and below in Tests. It is staggering to think that Ojha and Ashwin have taken 60 wickets together in only four Tests. Equate that in batting terms? In my mind, it is like two rookie openers reeling off four double-hundred partnerships in their first four Tests. It’s an amazing statistic."