So, the demolition is done. New Zealand losing to India was a chronic and a curious case of setting one thing straight一 this game does not belong to the good boys. You have to be aggressive, show the intensity and more importantly, know how to rule the right moments.
From losing the Final in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to getting whitewashed by India, for the first time in T20, these instances are proof that the Kiwi mentality is hunting down itself. It’s baffling to understand how one could score 34 runs in a (kind of) low-scoring match, make it a one-sided contest, and just let it slip away.
Nevertheless, one cannot shy away from admitting the fact that Virat Kohli’s men in blue are well ahead of their international compatriots in terms of game-sense and mentality. Think of it, last time when India played New Zealand in its own backyard in 2016 ICC T-20 World Cup, it lost so badly that India was struggling to save wickets and trying everything to reach 100 runs, that too when the target 126! Cut to present, the last three matches that India won were almost in Kiwi’s pocket yet it somehow squeezed the win out of the jaws of defeat.
Lack of bench-strength vs a strong bench
There was a time when New Zealand boasted a bench-strength that instilled fear in the hearts of their opponents. Shane Bond, Kyle Mills, Brendon Mccullum, Nathan Mccullum, Jesse Ryder, and the list is endless; you just name them, and they are ready to attack. Now, injuries to Lockie Fergusson, Trent Boult and Matt Henry have shown that Kane Williamson has no one to turn for help. Apart from Tim Seifert and Ross Taylor, there was no real contribution from the remaining players.
Meanwhile, the Indian camp bragged its bench strength by not giving its household name a go in this series. What’s interesting is that it also had a chance to rest Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Mohd Shami for the remaining matches! This shows how far New Zealand has come in comparison to India, whose board clearly made big investments in the infrastructure to see its team perform outside the sub-continent.
KL Rahul, the man for all-cause!
Besides bench strength, team India is blessed with the presence of leaders. Fare share of the credit should be given to the IPL as well. Big crowds and early exposure to the foreign mentality has cultivated blessed players like KL Rahul.
What a purple-patch this man is having! He is a classic example of how hard work pays off. He was not performing, and serious questions were raised on his inclusion last year. He went back to the domestic set-up, got runs under his belt and came back as a more reliable and calm player, a team can wish for. Getting man-of-the-series in New Zealand conditions is a no-easy feat. When he batted, there was a sense of maturity, unlike before, in a way that he will see-out the tough part and leave only when he provides a platform for the batsmen following him.
He looked solid while keeping. Though this is a short-format and his real test will come in the ODI series to follow; but, a lack of concentration, like that of Rishabh Pant, can lead to a lifeline for a batsman that can turn the match on its heads. A team needs level-headedness behind the stumps and he, provided that.
Apart from his keeping, yesterday, he also gave a glimpse of an unknown side; and, that is his art of managing the game as a captain. It was pretty unfortunate to see Rohit Sharma walking-off due to calf injury during the game; however, such has been Rahul’s luck that Virat Kohli saw this man manage the team with so much composure that India came won the game despite seeming to lose it on the half-way stage.
Though he made an error in bringing Shivam Dube, when Tim Siefert and Ross Taylor were going ballistic to prevent a whitewash, yet he rectified it and brought his front-line pacers to bring the team back and kill the game by the 17th over.
KL Rahul is like a kid in the candy shop, you give him something, and he is happy with that. Be it opening, keeping or captaincy he is making a case for himself for the upcoming T-20 World Cup. With Shikhar Dhawan injured and Pant nowhere to be seen; is KL Rahul the next Adam Gilchrist in the making? A question that only time can answer.