Virat Kohli in the post match presentation after the 2nd ODI commented that the ODIs are not of much relevance for this year. It was pretty stunning and controversial comment coming from the Indian captain who have always attached importance to every international game and it was a dissappointing comment too, trying to downplay back to back ODI defeats . Fact is, after losing the T20I series 0-5 after being in winning situations in 3 of them, the Kiwis finally managed to get their act together and closed out the 1st two ODIs in emphatic fashion to win the ODI series with a 2-0 lead and one to play . And this they managed without their frontline bowlers.
India had their wish ,bowling first on a smallish ground at Eden park where defending even big targets are challenging . Guptill ,who scored that mammoth 237 at this very ground in 2015 World cup semis, looked in fine touch after a long time and had a fine 93 run stand with equally impressive southpaw Henry Nicholls (41) and both of them matched each other stroke for stroke .One flicked upper cut for 6 off Bumrah by Guptill was specially memorable. Tom Bruce (22) also looked in good nick till his dismissal at 142 triggered a sensational collapse with Kiwis losing 7 for 55 as Chahal, Jadeja and Thakur shared the spoils. Guptill (79) got runout against run of play and Latham (7) was lbw to a straightish one from Jadeja who dented the Kiwi batting with his tight bowling which resulted in wickets for other bowlers. In the midst of ruins veteran RossTaylor (74 no) held firm as he took New Zealand from a precarious 197/8 in 41 overs to a fighting 273 with the help of debutant fast bowler Kylie Jamieson who scored 25 runs of gold including a straight 6 off Bumrah . Thus 75 runs were added in last 9 overs by New Zealand for the 9th wicket !! For India Chahal (3/58) , Jadeja (1/35) and Thakur (2/60) bowled well but Bumrah struggled again (0/64 off 10)
India though lost Mayank (3)early to a beautiful leg cutter off Bennet were crusing initially with Prithvi Shaw scoring 24 off 19 balls with 6 crisp boundaries .However just when he looked good for a big one ,he was undone by a beautiful inswinger from Jamieson which rattled his stumps. Tim Southee , who was forcefully playing this game inspite being indisposed ,strategised well against Kohli bowling outside off line with a heavily packed offside, which made Kohli a little edgy as runs were not coming fluently. Finally a scrambled inswinger went through Kohli’s(15) defences to rattle his stumps as he shaped to play slightly accross . If that was not enough, Rahul’s ill advised cut to edge into his stumps totally put India onto the backfoot . Shreyas was shaping up well but Kedar (9) failed again as India lost 5 before reaching 100 . Just when it looked that Shreyas will bat deep, he played a rash shot at 52 to throw his wicket away which left Jadeja (much like that fateful semifinal) to take India through. Shardul (18) promised briefly but it was Navdeep Saini who came at 157/7 and batted with a lot of character and bravery to partner Jadeja in a brilliant revival effort which had the Kiwis in some bother ,with Southee having finished his quota to go out of the field. Saini (45 off 49) played some high risk but effective shots to take India close before Jamieson bowled him . Chahal (10) batted sensibly till he got runout as Jadeja (55) all by himself , was trying to shepherd India along. However ,India’s luck finally ran out as Jadeja’s straight hit off Neesham was snapped up by Dgrandhome at the boundary as New Zealand closed out a superb win by 22 runs to take the series. Jamieson for his 2 wickets and valuable batting was the man of the match in his international debut .
Thus India’s luck finally ran out in the ODIs where New Zealand had been emphatic. The home team deserves more credit as they won the ODIs without playing their best bowlers as against India’s full strength bowling attack. Moreover fine batting by Ross Taylor averting a major crisis deserves a big mention. Failing to take New Zealand accross the line in 3 successive T20Is , luck has definitely smiled on him in the ODIs. India needs a face saving win in the 3rd ODI to gain some momentum before the test series. Kohli’s comment has been most untimely and dissappointing.