India lost 2-0. But, does the fan really care?
With the South Africa tour of India and the much-awaited Indian Premier League lined up, the fan will hardly remember India's mauling by the next fortnight.
T20Is: 5-0 to India; ODIs 3-0 to New Zealand; Tests 2-0 to New Zealand; the bottom line: 5-5. Even stevens, isn't it? No, not really.
The T20I series was a closely fought affair. It may be easy to mock at New Zealand for not ending on the right side of the line in the Super Overs but before that, you have to give them credit for reaching it, time and again. They must be doing something correct, right?
Take into account the two Super Overs and a couple of close turnarounds and the scoreline could have easily read 3-2 in the favour of New Zealand in the T20I series.
India were outplayed in all the three ODI games.
What was the response like?
To paraphrase, both captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri: There is not much context attached to the one-day games, anyway. What we are looking at is Test cricket which is a priority, with the Test Championship final coming up in 2021. This is the time for the T20Is, with back-to-back T20 World Cups lined up.
Coming to Test matches, consecutive defeats by 10 wickets and seven wickets are enough to suggest the one-sided nature of the contest. Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson may be generous enough to say that the series was not as one-sided as the score line suggests. But, even he would agree that every time there was a situation to be won and lost, which in turn decided the fate of the match, 9 times out of 10, it was New Zealand took strides in the game.
The Indian batting was totally found out, especially opener Prithvi Shaw, who was tested with deliveries coming into him and leaving him from a length. But, what was even more concerning was his inability to negotiate the short deliveries aimed at his body.With the openers not giving India a good start, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane found themselves at the crease much earlier then they would have expected or liked. Pujara had a couple of chinks exposed. His discomfort against the short-pitched delivery and his existing trouble of balls sneaking in through his bat-pad gap.
Virat Kohli never arrived on the shores of New Zealand. If he did, it was not the Virat Kohli we know. There was notable lack of application and not following the mantra of "watch the ball closely". His last dismissal against Colin de Grandhomme was not against a delivery that did something miraculously. At de Grandhomme's pace, to catch Kohli off guard is also tough. It was the sheer lack of application and not being switched on. He missed the ball by a couple of inches and was trapped plumb in front of the pegs.
It was not a surprise that the Indian tail did not contribute. When you do not trust your defence, you begin to attack every delivery which never pay offs in conditions that are assisting the bowlers.
The Indian bowling did a relatively better job than the batsman but they were also outbowled by the New Zealand pacers. There were two major reasons behind this.
One, the Indian pacers rely on seam bowling rather than swing bowling. India missed somebody like a Bhuvneshwar Kumar who could have swung the ball in the air and troubled the batsmen, rather than the likes of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah who heavily rely on the ball to do something off the surface, and when that does not happen, they are not as effective.
Two, Indian bowlers struggled to find their length. While Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson were successful in bowling on a good length, erring on the side of full and mixing it up with short deliveries, the Indian bowlers were either too full or too short.
Short deliveries were either cut or pull. The half volleys were met with a straight bat face. Credit has to be given to the Kiwi batsmen for being sure about what they were doing and executing it perfectly.
It is laudable of the Indian skipper to take the defeat on the chin and concede that India had been outplayed. But, in 10 days time, South Africa tour India for a 3-match ODI series which will be followed by the glam fest called the Indian Premier League.
You hit a few sixes, knock back a few pegs and that's it, you are the hero again. Most Indian fans will revel in the extravaganza and it will not occur to them that Virat Kohli found himself in a rut a few days back or the much-acclaimed Indian bowling was outbowled by their Kiwi counterparts.
Strap in. We are in the World Cup year anyway.
©Cricket World 2020