New Zealand: A death trap for Asian teams?

Recently, New Zealand became the numero-uno in tests for the first time in its 91-year cricketing history. The team has been clinical while playing tests at home. In the last 5 years, New Zealand has just lost 2 of its home test series, against Australia in 2016 and against South Africa in 2017.

However, Asian teams have got a reason to bemoan the conditions in New Zealand as none of the sides have won a single Test there since 2009. Pakistan was the last Asian team to win a test match on New Zealand soil way back in December 2009, and India was the last Asian team to win a test series in New Zealand (March 2009).

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The primary reasons for Asian teams not performing well in New Zealand from past 11 years is:

1. Lack of bite from the pace-bowling attack of Asian teams:

Presently, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have an average pace-bowling attack. Their bowlers are not good in bowling swingers and bouncers consistently, which is a requirement to succeed in New Zealand. Their bowlers are inexperienced at the highest level too.

India had an inexperienced pace-bowling attack in 2014 and thus they lost 2-test series by 1-0. However come 2020, they were skilled but used too much short pitched stuff without swing and hence got thrashed.

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Asian spinners have reaped good rewards on New Zealand pitches, but have been found guilty of conceding too many runs.

2. Asian teams struggle against swing and bounce:

It is a notable fact that most of the Asian batsmen struggle against swing and short-pitched bowling. Overcast conditions and lush-green pitches contribute immensely to this.

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Teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have struggled heavily against swing and bounce in New Zealand, thus giving catching practice to New Zealand fielders in the slips on a consistent basis.

3. New Zealand batsmen are compulsive pullers of the ball:

Their batsmen, especially Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling and Tom Latham are compulsive pullers of the ball. Bowl anything short to them and they’ll either leave them or smash them with disdain. Hence, they rack up scores in the range of 400-650 runs. On the other hand, most of the Asian batsmen are not good pullers of the ball.

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4. Poor tail-order batting line-up of Asian teams:

Asian teams don’t field all-rounders in the lower-order, thereby they have tail-enders batting as high as at No.8. Meanwhile, New Zealand has solid tail-order batsmen like Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner and Tim Southee, who can score runs when required.

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So, this factor actually helps New Zealand add a few hundred runs, which put pressure on the Indian batsmen.

When it comes to limited-overs, then Asian teams barring Bangladesh fared slightly better, winning at least one of the matches. India did recently win the ODI series in 2019 by 4-1 and whitewashing New Zealand in 2020 T20I series by 5-0.

Featured Image: New Zealand Cricket | Instagram

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