India is trumped and dusted in a foreign land!
Though the ODI series this year does not hold much importance yet one has to applaud the sweeping statement made by New Zealand. India, for the first time or perhaps the second(the first being in England), under Virat Kohli, looked out of depth. What aggravated this issue was the injuries to the stalwart Indian openers一 Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Lack of Clarity with the tactics
However, this series is clearly not what the scoreline suggests. Like England, India was competitive but lacked clarity to cash-in on crucial stages of the game. Further, the roles of most of the players were not defined. What was Kedar Jadhav’s role in the team if he was not used for bowling when other leaked runs? Should Bumrah be more proactive in taking wickets when the opponents targeted others and took a conservative approach against?
Throughout the series, Indian bowlers failed to defend the big scores. One of the most blatant examples of this lack of clarity was the second ODI in Auckland. India had New Zealand and the match by the scruff of its neck; of course, reducing New Zealand to 197/8 with almost 9 overs to go was not a cakewalk. In such a scenario, Virat Kohli should have gone for the sucker punch; rather, he received one. He should have gone with Bumrah and Saini, both of whom were blowing fire at that moment; instead, he gave them a break and introduced Shardul Thakur. This changed the complexion of the game and sensible innings from Ross Taylor and, young debutant, Kyle Jamieson, allowed New Zealand to post a score of 274 which they defended easily.
To some extent, this lack of clarity could and might be linked with the absence of Virat Kohli’s deputy一 Rohit Sharma. Without a doubt, Rohit Sharma is a shrewd tactician and a calming influence. His absence left Kohli with a young team and a relatively new team in different conditions.
Kohli’s failure sorting the muddle in the middle
Not only tactics, but Virat Kohli also will certainly not want to look back at this series just for the fact that he was not able to carry the team. Usually, India is heavily dependent on its front three. Howbeit, this series was different from the one they have played before. This time, neither there was no Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan to support Virat Kohli, nor, Virat Kohli was in a form where he can take down an opposition single-handedly.
Probably, this was the reason why the Indian team failed to set or chase the target in this series. But what’s great is that this failure has resulted in a blessing for the Indian team. The rise of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul at no 4 and no 5 is impeccable. Though they were relatively young, yet they were mature in terms of handling crucial situations.
They first constructed the barricades for the New Zealand predators and then, built a solid foundation for the remaining batsmen. If one clock back to 2019 World Cup then they will find that the reason for India to lose the semi-final was the lack of solid middle-order batsmen. Apart from them, Manish Pandey too showed that he could be really handy if given an opportunity. Given the situation he came in, he was not afraid to take the aerial root. He batted an eye for an eye and helped India reach 296 which was a very good total to defend.
Lack of depth in bowling and experienced players
This is a universal fact that Virat Kohli loves to make his pacers spearhead his bowling attack; and to some extent, this has paid him dividends. However, the same cannot be said in this series. Whatever series India has played and dominated under either Kohli or Sharma, there has been a pattern to it. When India bowls, Bhuvenshwar Kumar creates the pressure and Jasprit Bumrah pounces on it.
However, in this series, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was absent, so creating the pressure was Bumrah’s role but who was there to take a wicket with him? Instead of taking a wicket, bowlers at the other end leaked runs. Kiwi batsmen were content with whatever runs they were able to fetch from Jasprit Bumrah’s 10 overs because they knew they could target others.
Similarly, the absence of power hitters down the order was hurting India. There was no Hardik Pandya or MS Dhoni to propel India in the death overs. Yes, Shivam Dube was in the ranks, but he cannot provide the same punch as that of Hardik Pandya who offers a useful 10 overs along with his prowess to hit the ball out of the park regardless of its dimension.
It was fitting for India to lose this series and lose this badly, the fact that this series provides a good reality-check that will compel the Indian captain to bounce back even stronger. With the tour tied at 1-1 and, both sides back with their full strength for the test, who will have the last laugh in the red ball cricket? Have your say.