Lopsided, yet a journey well begun for India


Bulawayo, Aug. 5 -- At the outset, India's comprehensive 5-0 whitewash might seem ordinary as it came against Zimbabwe. The hosts showed some fight in the first two ODIs before displaying lowly standards than their No 10 ranking suggests.

But that should not take anything away from India, who under Virat Kohli had a spring in every step.

So the question is did India achieve, other than statistically, what they had set out for? It's an answer that cannot be found by the statistical achievement of winning hands down against a team like Zimbabwe, who are going through one of their lowest points.

For the young India team, though, it's the journey from here that matters.

The five-match series was to test India's bench strength and get it ready for rigorous, tougher assignments. The batting line-up had the familiar faces, with only skipper MS Dhoni missing in the ranks, but the bowling unit was new and it stood out.

With the exception of Vinay Kumar, who went in as the leader of the attack, all the other bowlers created right impressions. Amit Mishra made the most of R Ashwin's absence by bagging wickets in a heap, finishing with 18 wickets at an average of 11. 61.

Standout trio

It was the three seamers -- Jaydev Unadkat, Shami Ahmed and Mohit Sharma, who will be richer in experience. Unlike against spin, Zimbabweans are known to play seam bowing well. But the India trio used the conditions well -- it also helped that they bowled first in four matches and reaped the benefits. Unadkat, in particular, was a revelation, picking up eight wickets. Mohit too caught the eye with a man-of-the match showing in his debut match.

Lot of positives

Virat, in his first full-stint as skipper, could not have asked for more.

"There are a lot of positives we can take out of this series, especially the way the young guys performed," he said.

"The guys who got a chance for the first time showed a lot of character, especially someone like Mohit and Unadkat. Ajinkya Rahane coming back into the team, scoring some runs. So it was pretty good to see all the guys performing and playing their roles," he added.

Perhaps the only blip was Cheteshwar Pujara's failure in two matches. Both the times the opener was bowled. But he is a too good a batsman not to be given a long rope, having become the lynchpin of the Test team.

Overall, India made the right use of the conditions and their below-par opponents to boost their bench strength.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.