Whether India team thinks the ODI series are currently less relevant or not , it has hardly bothered the Kiwis ,who marched away to another emphatic 5 wicket win to whitewash India 3-0 in the ODi series , after themselves having gift wrapped 3 games to India on the way to their 0-5 T20I whitewash.
Batting first at the picturesque Taraunga ground India was given a fluent start by a free stroking Prithvi Shaw who played glorious strokes in his 40 off 42 balls striking boundaries with drives and flicks all round the wicket before he got runout unable to sprint hard enough to the crease. However Mayank went early again unable to counter movement and Kohli(9) played a bizarre little innings, going for high risk shots early in his innings which is against his nature. The cornerstone of India’s innings was however the partnership between Shreyas Iyer (62) and KL Rahul (112) who brought India back into the game with sensible batting and playing high class strokes . One straight drive by Iyer and some onside strokes by KL were delight to watch. Rahul once again showing his class in the middleorder in ODIs and looks in supreme touch. Finally some scrambled runs from lower order took India to 296 in 50 overs with Hamish Bennet picking up 4 wickets.
New Zealand once again started superbly and blunted Bumrah again . One big factor for the Kiwis doing so well in ODI series is the welcome return to form of Martin Guptill who can be a fierce striker of a cricket ball if he is in his elements as Bumrah found out when he was carted for a 4 and a six. Guptill scored a rapid 66 off 46 balls before he was bowled beautifully by Chahal’s leg spin which turned past the bat and hit top of off. The other opener Henry Nicholls (80) played the supporting role but never missed scoring chances and kept the innings together playing some gorgeous shots on the way. The big two – Williamson (22) and Taylor (12) had a quiet game but it was left to Tom Latham (32no) to shepherd the innings in the final stage and just when India looked to get some control with Chahal’s bowling, Colin DGrandhome till now having a subdued series, smashed the other Indian bowlers by playing a blinder of an innings of 58 notout off 28 balls as the Indian fast bowlers leaked runs easily. DGrandhome’s flurry of strokes helped New Zealand to canter home by 5 wickets with 17 balls to spare in a near 300 run chase. For India , Chahal was (3/47) in great shape and looked the only bowler capable to rattling New Zealand. Nicholls was the man of the match while Ross Taylor was the player of the series.
It was a brilliant series win for New Zealand as they totally outplayed a strong Indian team in this ODI series. All the more creditable win with 3 of their first choice fast bowlers – Boult, Henry and Ferguson having missed this series due to injuries and Southee who played, was not in the best of health. The new and inexperienced bowlers Hamish Bennett and Kyle Jamieson bowled with a lot of heart and good skills taking 6 and 3 wickets in the series respectively. Southee took 4 series wickets and none of their bowlers conceded in excess of 7 runs per over in a reasonably high scoring series. Santner was decent too. The batting revolved around Ross Taylor in the absence of Williamson in 2 matches and Taylor averaged an astounding 194 in 3 games having being dismissed once. Nicholls (199 runs at 66 average) , Guptill (177 runs at 59 average,) and Latham (108 runs at 54 avg) had successful series.
India looked listless after their T20I wins. The absence of the regular openers (Rohit and Shikhar ) were badly felt as Shaw and Mayank didnt have much experience and it showed. Kohli had a mediocre series (75 runs at 25 avg) but Rahul (204 runs , avg 102) and Shreyas (217 runs, avg 71) dominated India’s batting charts with some high class batting display. Manish Pandey (48 runs, 1 innings) ought to have played the full series ahead of a disappointing Kedar Jadhav. Jadeja had a middling series but Chahal was good in his 2 games (6 wickets) and should now play ahead of Kuldeep ,who continues to look increasingly listless and really needs to get back to first class cricket to rediscover himself. Another big issue for India in this series was the lack of impact from their fast bowlers. Shardul (4 wickets in the series) leaked runs profusely and Saini for all his pace could not get any wicket . Bumrah was the biggest worry in terms of his lack of wickets– he was 0/167 in this series and though was most economical, could not apply much pressure on the batsmen in these ODIs .Even in the T20Is ,he was taken apart in the superovers and thus the Indian spearhead is yet to bowl at his best after his comeback from injury. The major reasons for India’s dismal show in ODIs were — a) No strong opening stands by inexperienced openers b) Regular openers not playing in the series c) Lack of runs for captain Kohli d) Bowlers not getting timely breakthroughs and leaking runs e) Bumrah not yet at his best after post injury comeback e) Occasional poor fielding f) Strong starts by New Zealand openers and quality batting by their middle order.
Thus after a dismal ODI series for India ,the teams will now be squaring up to play 2 tests. New Zealand will be back in their full fast bowling strength and India will have their test specialists. Promises to be a gripping contest but as of now , New Zealand higher on momentum.