Months of underperformance
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Deep in the belly of the Chinnaswamy Stadium hangs the honours board. The decorated wood sheet is located near the away dressing room, which is currently occupied by New Zealanders. Apparently, Ross Taylor scrutinised it on Thursday afternoon, a day before the second and final Test against India.
The Kiwi captain noticed that the month of September showed remarkably few scrawlings on the hundreds list. Dilip Vengsarkar, 112, September 19, 1979. Gundappa Viswanath, 161*, September 19, 1979. Sunil Gavaskar 103*, September 14, 1983. The list ended there, tailing away into a 29 year silence.
"It tells me that not too many runs have been scored here in September," he said during the press conference. "Also, there could be plenty of bounce and turn on this Chinnaswamy wicket, which will make scoring runs all the more difficult," Taylor felt, with sincerity.
The honours board, however, did not reveal many secrets to Taylor. It did not tell him that just two Tests (none after '83) have been conducted in this city in September. And in that time frame, it witnessed the aforementioned three centuries (including a 99 by Javed Miandad). It didn't tell him that this might perhaps the best place and time — going by the cent per cent hundreds record in September — for his side to turn around their abysmal performances.
'Scoring runs' for Kiwi batsmen in Indian conditions, right through the year and not just September in this city, is a daunting task. The highest score for New Zealand in Bangalore (a place they've previously played twice at, neither being September) is 58. By John Wright in 1988. In the one that followed in 1995, only Lee Germon crossed the 20s twice.
Both were lost by drastic margins, a situation oft repeated when the Silver Ferns come calling in their white flannels. Out of 30 matches contested between the two sides pan India, the Kiwis have won just two. The last of them appearing on the scoresheets as far ago as 24 years back in Mumbai (the other being in Nagpur in 1969). Taylor, however, should draw some courage from the fact that neither of the victorious sides contained a century maker. And both of them were the second Test of the series.
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