In a Test, a loss by 40 runs is considered a rather close one unlike in ODIs. So yes, India eventually did complete with New Zealand on an even keel at Auckland. But, it was also a fact that the hosts still were the more dominant of the two sides in the Tests, and India were always playing catch up. Hence, at the end of the day, a New Zealand win was a fair result. India were in an excellent position while chasing the mammoth fourth innings target, but the thing with chasing big totals is that you are always one wicket away from going on the back foot.
The pressure of chasing a big total got to India as well. They were reasonably placed at 222 for 2 chasing 407, but once Virat Kohli fell after compiling a pleasant half-century, India never regained the upper hand. Under the circumstances, and considering the amount of pressure he was under, Shikhar Dhawan came up with a sensational hundred to prove that he is indeed no flat-track bully. However, his dismissal, with India still a fair way away from the target, put the side under immense pressure.
What followed put India out of the Test completely. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma had got their eye in, but fell without contributing much. Their dismissals in quick succession undid all the good work done by Dhawan and Kohli earlier in the day. Rahane was a bit unlucky for sure with his lbw decision, but that again comes down to India’s decision not to adopt the DRS review. Once India had lost those four wickets in a span of 20-odd overs, New Zealand were always expected to get home easily.
To their credit, Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni counterattacked brilliantly for a while, and even raised hopes of a shock upset. But, while the tactics were smart for sure, it was only spectacular for as long as it lasted. The kind of shots Jadeja was playing was fraught with danger, and the chances of him not lasting long were always going to be high considering this risk factor. That is just how it turned out to be as he fell to an attempted loft. Dhoni could also consider himself unlucky as the bowler supposedly cut the sideline as he landed down to bowl Dhoni. But, it again comes back to the choice of technology, and hence India cannot complain.
Looking back, the poor first innings efforts with both bat and ball cost India the Test. Having put New Zealand in on the opening day, India had reduced the hosts to 30 for 3. They should have kept New Zealand down to under 300 from there, but allowed them to cross 500. Then, with the bat, they crumbled to 202 all out, giving the hosts a massive lead. They bowled sensationally a second time round, but even then they allowed the score to cross 100 after having the batting side at 80 for 9. To sum up India’s performance, they came close but never quite.
--By A Cricket Analyst