Result: India lose series 4-0
Yet another tour, yet another shambolic overseas performance. India lost their 8th out of 9 finished matches abroad since the Australia ODI series at home, winless in South Africa and yet to open their account in New Zealand. Historically, New Zealand hasn’t been an easy place to tour- even for the mighty Aussies- but India would have heavily favored themselves atleast in the shorter format after arriving with big reputations as the no. 1 team in the world. A 4-0 near-whitewash later, Team India has lost their top ranking to Australia. Sound familiar? India last lost their test no. 1 status after being pummeled in England 4-0 in 2011. The team has changed a lot since then, but the result looks familiarly depressing.
The statistics are pretty bleak too. Kane Williamson, the next big thing, scored five 50s in 5 games- breaking the NZ record for the maximum ODI runs in a 5 match series. Taylor came a close second with 2 centuries and 2 fifties. Basically, their middle order stole the show.
Let us take a ratings-style look at the performance of each of India’s disillusioned young team:
Shikhar Dhawan (3/10)
Dhawan carried on from where he left off in South Africa: runless and clueless. He failed to keep the short ball down again, and has developed a clear chink in his armour. He was dropped for a game, played 4 of them, failing to score a single 50. His final innings was an indicator of how this team might probably need the steady experience of Gambhir and Pujara soon.
Rohit Sharma (4/10)
Not much better than Shikhar, if only marginally. One fifty in 5 games, Rohit managed lesser runs than Jadeja in the series at an average of 29. More alarming was his strike rate of 70, unacceptable in a series where NZ scored 300 in almost every innings.
Virat Kohli (8/10)
As usual, easily the best batsman in a team struggling with its top order. Kohli was tied down in the 3rd ODI before miscuing a pull, and was a victim of opening the batting in the next ODI, but he began the series with a century and ended it with a lost-cause 50. He was India’s highest scorer, but that mattered little in a series that must have made him realize how much his shoulders will need to burden over the next year or so.
Ajinkya Rahane (2/10)
Probably the biggest disappointment of India’s tragic series. 50 runs in 5 games, after a test match performance that promised so much back in South Africa. The ironic part is that Rahane has become quite a name in T20 cricket, failing to translate any sort of form in ODI cricket.
Ambati Rayadu (4/10)
With only 2 games, Rayadu failed to utilize the opportunities, getting starts but failing to contribute more. He looked scratchy at the crease both times, and will continue to be part of the great Indian middle order shuffle.
Suresh Raina (4/10)
Funnily enough, even though Raina scored only 84 runs in 3 games, on par with Rohit’s average, his strike rate was an impressive 101. Still, he seems to have run out of time after failing to get a 50 in his last 12 ODIs. But there is no alternative yet.
MS Dhoni (6/10)
Yet another successful series with the bat for the Captain, but his stubbornness as a leader has plunged his team to the depths of yet another whitewash abroad. Dhoni seemed clueless about selection matters, insisting on using both his spinners despite the pitches. Also, Dhoni’s style of going about a 300+ chase in the final ODI backfired badly, putting way too much pressure on Kohli.
Ravindra Jadeja (6/10)
Jadeja averaged more with the ball than bat (4 wickets at 60 to an impressive 48 with the bat), managing to tie the 3rd ODI in a final over blitz. He seems to have realized why he is in the team, but it is already too late.
R. Ashwin (3/10)
Despite his trailblazing innings in the tied ODI, Ashwin averaged only 18 with the bat over 5 games. Forget that, Ashwin must have broken the world record while bowling as a lead spinner: An average of 227 with just ONE wicket to show for. That is disastrous, by any standard. Ashwin should have followed Raina out, but saved himself with a single batting contribution.
Ishant Sharma (2/10)
Just 2 games this series, because better sense prevailed. An economy of 7.5 in 15 overs. But still, even without his contribution to the NZ batters, India were destroyed in the series. So this proves that it isn’t just him as the dead weight.
B. Kumar (4/10)
He is too much of a middling performer for the team, managing to keep his economy the lowest again (under 5.5) but averaging an ordinary 60 with the ball. 4 wickets is not enough, and his death bowling leaves much to be desired.
Varun Aaron (3/10)
4 wickets in 3 games at 44 is partially better than his counterparts, but still pretty hopeless for a strike bowler in New Zealand. Aaron conceded 7 runs an over consistently, and failed to make the desired impact.
Stuart Binny (2/10)
Not his fault for being picked by a clueless captain as a bowling all-rounder and then being given only 1 over. He didn’t even bat.
Mohammad Shami (6/10)
Shami finished as the lead wicket taker in the series (11), and was the lone penetrator in a toothless attack. But his economy rate was consistently over 7, and he conceded far too many runs in the first 10 overs. Much room for improvement. The Tests will be crucial for him.
The Indian bowlers managed only 6 maidens between them in 5 games. Compare that to 13 for NZ, and it is easy to analyze where the series was lost: The middle overs.