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New Zealand vs. India: Winners and Losers from 1st Test in Auckland

Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

New Zealand vs. India: Winners and Losers from 1st Test in Auckland

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    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    New Zealand triumphed in Auckland but the finish was much closer than they would have expected after posting 503 in their first innings.

    Indeed, India's fightback nearly enabled them to pull off one of the greatest Test comebacks of all-time but the Black Caps kept their nerve.

    Let's take a look at some of the individual winners from this enthralling contest and some of the players who have a lot to prove when the next game gets under way in Wellington.

Winner: Brendon McCullum

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    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Brendon McCullum's huge innings of 224, scored at his usual rapid rate, enabled New Zealand to take control of the match after losing the toss and being asked to bat.

    The knock, which contained 34 boundaries, five of which were maximums, fell agonisingly one run short of the Black Caps skipper's personal best which was also against India.

    Despite being run out cheaply in the second innings, McCullum will be delighted with his side's start meaning they can't now lose this two-match series.

Winner: Ishant Sharma

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    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    It wasn't too long ago that Ishant Sharma's international future was under scrutiny after a few poor performances against Australia in an ODI series.

    But the giant paceman confirmed he remains a threat at this level with a nine-wicket match haul that included a persevering six for 134 in New Zealand's huge first innings.

    The question for Sharma, as usual, is can he maintain this level of performance and improve on his disappointing Test average of 37.63?

Winner: Tim Southee

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    Phil Walter/Getty Images

    Alongside Trent Boult, Tim Southee has formed a potent pace duo that is one of the primary reasons behind New Zealand's strong performances of late.

    The 25-year-old's six wickets in this game came from his usual accurate outswingers and included five of India's top order, three of who, were coerced into edging to the keeper.

    Given the margin of the Black Caps victory, Southee's 42 late-order runs also emphasise his value to the side.

Loser: Cheteshwar Pujara

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    It is very rare that Cheteshwar Pujara fails to make a score but in this Test, by his incredibly high standards, scores of one and 23 represent two disappointing contributions.

    The normally limpet-like batsman uncharacteristically edged a loose drive behind in the first innings before nicking a cracker from Tim Southee, again to the wicketkeeper, in the second.

    The 26-year-old has made a stunning start to his career and boasts the highest batting average of any current player so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him bounce back in Wellington. New Zealand beware.

Loser: Ish Sodhi

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    Ross Setford/Associated Press

    With just two dismissals in the entire game falling to spin, it is perhaps unfair to rate Ish Sodhi on this wicketless performance.

    However, sooner or later, the 21-year-old who was fast-tracked into the New Zealand team needs to make a contribution or face returning to domestic cricket to work on his game.

    Sodhi has taken just 11 wickets in five matches at an average of 59.72 and an economy rate of 3.70 is also an indication of the leg-spinner's struggles to maintain control.

Loser: Ajinkya Rahane

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    Jason Oxenham/Getty Images

    Ajinkya Rahane is the most vulnerable of the current India top order at the moment and scores of 26 and 18 in this match won't have done him much good.

    The second dismissal, a poor LBW decision from the umpire who missed the 25-year-old's inside edge, is the sort of thing which goes against you when you are struggling and robbed the Mumbai man of a chance to win the game.

    Still, after registering four single-figure scores in the ODI series, Rahane clearly needs a score in Wellington to hopefully return to the form he showed against South Africa in December.

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