Outbowled, outplayed, and outclassed. The green pitches have turned the faces red and, perhaps, has left no hiding place for the players of no. 1 test team.
There are three aspects to foreign conditions; one is the pace, which Indian batsmen have started to handle pretty well, given the fact, that a spinner blessed country is producing better pace bowlers at the international level. Second is swing, this is a bit scratchy part, bring an overcast condition with some air and, to top that, moisture in the pitch, these cult-classic shot makers will have some trouble in playing a good bowler regardless of how good they are. And, the third is the combination of the two varieties, that is, pace and bounce along with swing and moisture. Probably, the most dangerous combination for a subcontinent player to encountered in New Zealand.
There is a reason behind the saying that New Zealand in its own backyard is not an easy team to play; and, this series is an example of that. This team and perhaps, its bowlers made a mockery of Virat Kohli and his men by pocketing 120-points of the test championship. However, one is bound to wonder what went wrong for a team that threatened to take the tour away with a clean sweep in the T-20 series? Was it the team combination or was it the players? Was it the conditions or the host changed their tempo? Was it the crucial moments of the play that changed the game or was it the laid back nature of the players who thought that only T-20 holds importance this year?
They say that the captain is as good as the team. He is someone who influences his players. Tim Paine and Aaron Finch bring a calm atmosphere, the same happens with England and New Zealand, and, for India, Virat Kohli has created a fierce and aggressive environment where the need of the hour is to go for the sucker punch.
And, in such a scenario, when the captain says that other formats, this year, apart from T-20 does not hold much importance, how do you think the team will perform. Maybe these formats are a leisure activity for the management to try out new players. But in that case, is going for a win not important? Yes, there were some key players who either got injured or were dropped, but what about the rest? The opponent too played without their key players for the most part of the tour.
It’s all in the brain, during the reign of MS Dhoni, these statements were never a part of the press conference or post-match presentation. Every format was treated with utter dignity irrespective of which ICC tournament was taking place in that particular year. The same cannot be said for Virat Kohli.
Is the great Virat Kohli exposed? Tim Southee, Josh Hazelwood, Trent Boult, Mitchel Starc, and Pat Cummins, each and every one of them has a plan in place to dismantle Virat Kohli. And, this has turned out to be one of the reasons why we have seen Virat Kohli struggled this season.
Make him fish the bowl on the fourth stump line with a tinge of swing in it and you know, you had him that very bowl. If you look closely, then it was Tim Southee who exposed the weakness of the Indian captain to its full effect. Throughout the tour, he bowled him that very ball where Virat Kohli was uncertain of his off-stump. As a result, Super V was unable to make any significant impact with the bat and India ended up losing the tour with a scoreline of 2-1.
Lack of senior players
The absence of senior players is one of the reasons why India has been humbled in the ODI and Test. The reason why India pulled off a never done stunt against the host in the T-20 was the duo of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. Injury to Sharma meant, the onus was on Kohli and Rahul to handle the team, that too not forgetting a few big names like Dhawan and Pandya missing and Bumrah coming from an injury.
Taking no credit away from New Zealand, this team did found a wise way of playing Jasprit Bumrah. They avoided any kind of stroke-making against the lethal pacer and just looked to rotate the strike by respecting him. Although this left the pacer with a good economy; an economical spell is good to boast on the board but it does not win you matches, wickets does! This also created a blueprint of dealing with Bumrah, which now others will follow.
Besides, in a county where pace and swing are the two primary aspects, India clearly missed Bhuvenshwar Kumar. He could well be India’s Tim Southee in these conditions. But lack of concern and a lot of carelessness from NCA has ensured that the player was not a part of this tour. The second name on the similar line is Hardik Pandya, such was his workload that the player is still unable to recover from his broken and aching back. This also raised a question over BCCI’s man-management and organizing jam-packed tours where the players have to get injured in order to take a sigh of relief.
Third on the list is Shikhar Dhawan, this player has been struggling with a shoulder injury since the 2019 World Cup, and without proper rehabilitation, he was brought back into the team and had to miss the entire tour.
Just food for thought, think how strong India could have been if these players were fit and raring to go? Shouldn’t this result be in India’s favour? Who knows, the only thing we know is that despite all this, there is one ODI series left with South Africa and then the mega IPL, which clearly will see more players go than coming in.