India cricket team’s tour down south was not one of their most successful, but one with plenty of lessons to learn. As the the Men in blue prepare to welcome the Aussies, here is a complete lowdown of the recently concluded New Zealand tour.
New Zealand beat India in the third T20I at Hamilton on Sunday and clinched the series 2-1 in a tense last over thriller. Chasing 213 set by the Kiwis, the Indian team lost Shikhar Dhawan early. Captain Rohit Sharma’s 38 off 32 balls and Vijay Shankar’s 43 off 28 balls helped India get back on track. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya added 28 (12) and 21 (11) respectively. Dinesh Karthik’s 33 off 16 balls and Krunal Pandya’s 26 off 13 balls couldn’t save India the match as India lost by 4 runs.
For India, Kuldeep Yadav was the star with the ball. He picked up 2 wickets in his 4 overs giving away only 26 runs. Bhubaneswar Kumar and Khaleed Ahmed picked up a wicket each.
New Zealand batters Colin Munro and Tim Seifert went hitting the Indian bowlers out of the park. Munro made a 40 ball 72 which included 5 fours and 5 sixes whereas Seifert added a 25 ball 43. New Zealand posted 212/4 as Indian bowlers were hit clean. Krunal Pandya passed 50 with the ball. He gave 52 runs in 4 overs whereas Khaled Ahmed gave 47 and Hardik Pandya gave 44 runs in 4 overs.
“Pretty disappointing to not get to the finishing line. 210-odd was always going to be tough, and we were in the game right till the end, but New Zealand held their nerve well and they deserved to win. We started off well in the ODIs, and the boys will be disappointed not getting to the finishing line in the T20s. Lots of positives, and a few mistakes, so there’s a lot of material to move ahead. It would have been nice to win the series and go home and play Australia, but unfortunately we couldn’t do that,” Rohit Sharma said at the post match presentation.
Positives for Team India
Vijay Shankar was the biggest positive for India in the three match T20I series against the Black Caps. The all-rounder didn’t bowl but batted at a position commanded by the Indian captain Virat Kohli. The right handed batsman played exquisite shots in the three matches which showed his appropriate technique and even his muscle power. Shankar made 27,14 and 43 respectively.
Rishabh Pant batted a number 4 and further elevated his status in the team. India doesn’t have strong power hitters as that of New Zealand, South Africa, England and West Indies but with Rishabh Pant in the kind of form he is this left handed wicket keeper has a bright future in the team. Pant made 4,40* 28 respectively.
Hardik Pandya was probably under pressure in the series. He was coming on the back of a huge controversy. The all rounder had been banned for 4 games so all eyes were on him and he did prove himself with both bat and ball.
The mystery spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were fabulous throughout the three match T20 series. The Kiwis had a tough time to pick up the spinners.
Also, left arm spinner Krunal Pandya had a good tour. He won the man of the match in the second T20I that India won. He picked up 3 wickets in that match.
MS Dhoni‘s form was also the biggest positive in the series. He delivered with the bat. His quick glove work and guiding the bowlers from behind the stumps was outstanding. Dhoni made 39, 19*,2 in the series.
Things India Need to Improve
With Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami being rested, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the lone seamer with little help from Khaled Ahmed. Ahmed’s pace was such that the Kiwis easily tonked him throughout the series.
Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma had starts in the series but couldn’t convert their scores into big ones which cost India the series.
India’s ability to score at a brisk pace in the powerplay has also been brought into question in the series. Compared to the opening New Zealand batsman, Indian batters could be described as slow.
With World Cup 2019 in sight, India has to focus more on the 50 over format. Captain Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah will be back for the next series which is the last international series before the major ICC tournament.
India welcome Australia next for two T20Is and five ODIs, starting at Vizag on February 24.