Not for the first time, the Indian bowling attack came apart in an overseas series. The batting clicked in spurts and the result: India have lost the ODI series against a no. 7 ranked New Zealand team, without winning a match after 4 ODIs.
This is in stark contrast to India’s tour in 2009, where Sachin Tendulkar began his final wind. Back then, India- led by the same captain- won the series 3-1. They then went on to win the test series 2-0. That itself was in stark contrast to India’s tour back in 2002-03, where India, months before the World Cup, lost the ODI series 5-2 and the test series 0-2.
In the fourth ODI in Hamilton- a match that was an absolute must win for MS Dhoni and his boys- the management threw caution to the wind. It was almost as if they had decided to show the media and team critics what would happen if they chose teams according to their expert views. You want changes? You got it. Raina was dropped, Dhawan was dropped. Rayadu and Binny were bought in. New Zealand didn’t play their hero Anderson. The tragic part was that he wasn’t even needed by the end of things.
For the first time in 20 games abroad, MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to BAT first. And for his final shock of the morning- Kohli was moved up to open the innings, an allegedly poetic tribute to the man that opened the innings for his first time back in 1993 and went on to become India’s greatest ODI batsman. But while Tendulkar blasted his way to an imperious 83 back then, Kohli was removed for 2. That was two consecutive failures for the team’s best batsman. Rahane, played as an opener in T20s everywhere, came in at 3 and failed too. After 20 overs, they went at 3 an over at 60-2, with Rohit again playing out too many dots. Nothing had changed.
Rohit flashed his way to 79, and with Dhoni and Jadeja– India huffed and puffed their way to 278. Perhaps this was going to be a test. Dhoni’s bowlers though, decided to make this a no-contest. He was even forced to criticize them with a ‘use your brains’ jab in the press conference- such was the inadequacy and lack of experience of the pacers. Shami once again went at close to 8 an over, as did Aaron. In a year, India are to play their opening matches in the World Cup in these conditions. And, as if on cue, the team has now gone 9 matches- over all formats- without a single win. It is no coincidence that ever since they’ve been on the road after a 3-2 win in the ODI series against Australia at home, India are YET to win a single match. A 2-0 loss to South Africa in both ODIs and Tests, followed by a 3-0 here, continues to serve fodder to the one-sided argument of them being lambs abroad.
Ashwin has taken only 2 wickets in his last 90 overs abroad, and Jadeja has chosen this time to become the batting finisher he was originally chosen for. It doesn’t matter what Kohli and Dhoni manage to put on the board anymore- chasing or otherwise- because no score is enough when you allow New Zealand (a team that has consistently been slaughtered by Bangladesh in the same format) to trample over your reputation.
To make things worse, India are now ranked no. 2 in the world, and look like they will stay there for a while.