The mirror has been shown and how! While the BCCI led bigwigs in international cricket are preparing to take control of the functioning of the International Cricket Council in Dubai, a subservient cricket nation has upstaged the current World Champions with almost a clean sweep. New Zealand, in a fortnight, have put on display who is at the bottom of the relegation table.
The five-match One-day international series was an ideal opportunity for a young Indian side to start their road to the World Cup next year. The confidence was high as it was a battle of No.1 vs No.8 in One-day Cricket. But this belief came crashing as the visitors failed to register a single victory and continued their winless streak in overseas conditions. It is appalling to look at India’s record post the World Cup win in 2011; they have managed only 3 wins and 3 ties along with 11 losses in Australia, England and now New Zealand.
The much famed Indian batting faltered in conditions suitable for pace and bounce but ideal for stroke play. It wasn’t one of those green top surfaces, but flat drop-in pitches. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma averaged less than 30 and got out more often than not while playing the pull and hook shots against short-pitched bowling, getting caught at deep square leg or fine leg areas. Ajinkya Rahane’s failure has once again weakened the middle order, and the chant for getting Cheteshwar Pujara back for the ODIs are only going to get louder.
Suresh Raina’s selection was always a doubtful case, and he complemented with back to back failures in dealing with the short stuff. Virat Kohli was the one man army scoring consistently and reminding of the late 90s era of the Sachin Tendulkar domination. Skipper MS Dhoni continued his brilliance with the bat but always had a lot to do. It is frustrating to see him coming so late as the game is generally lost by that time. He must have a change in the batting order and should promote himself to No.4 or No.5.
Fast bowlers carried on with their task of giving headaches to the captain and the team management. The death bowling was extremely poor as Shami and Co. failed to get the yorkers at the end. The new rules in the game have undoubtedly affected the Indians the most. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was expected to swing the ball in overseas conditions, but his wickets column doesn’t show that. Mohammad Shami took wickets but with an economy of 7.15.
Others like Varun Aaron got intimated by the bounce and pace of the pitches and tried to bowl short, but most of the deliveries turned out to be half-trackers. Once again the absence of Zaheer Khan will raise eyebrows as he remains India’s best bet. The spin department was disappointing too. With Ashwin getting just 2 wickets in the last 8 away ODIs and Ravindra Jadeja not being as effective as one would like him to be, Dhoni should have gone for Amit Mishra.
The team management’s selection was ‘rigid’ most of the times. Playing Ashwin despite his poor performances and with Amit Mishra in the reserves was unfair. Stuart Binny, who played in one game, was slotted at no.8 and was given only 1 over to bowl, even if it meant that the captain had to bring on Ambati Rayudu to complete the quota. This time of crisis has surely given the Indian think-tank an opportunity to get things back on track. It has also raised hopes for players like Gautam Gambhir who are desperate to make a comeback. But let’s hope all is not forgotten when they start performing on sub-continental pitches.
New Zealand on the other hand were lethal. The consistency shown by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in the middle overs was eye-catching, and they propelled the innings total near or over 300 every time. Corey Anderson was the new star discovered, with his all-round abilities dismantling the Indians. Tim Southee and Kyle Mills along with the newbie Mitchell McClenaghan asked serious questions to the Indian batsmen, to which they had no answer. It seems like the Kiwis have found a good bunch of players at least in home conditions.