The Pride Crushed into Dust
The giant batting line up; Rhodes-que fielders; talented, energised breed of bowlers; world champions with rank 1 in the ODI rank list; a captain with “Midas” touch; and a no. eight ranked team as the opponent.
With the above mentioned outline, even a guy with minimal cricketing knowledge would guess the winner out of the contesting teams. But what if I tell you that the world champions were thrashed like another team from the streets? The team lost the tag of rank 1 with a straight 4-0 loss after managing a tie out of the five match series. The giant batting line-up was dismantled with negligible fight-back from the top order and a struggling middle order kept revamping the team from tricky situations every time with some strong batting display by Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The bowlers kept bowling as if they were playing any domestic tournament in their initial days of training. And the captaincy was way below the expectation from the guy who had led the team to the World Championship not too long ago.
A team through the phase of transition, they said. A team, half the members of which have played around 100 ODI matches, they never said. A team may stay through the phase of transition for how long? That’s a question worth a glare. Last time a senior, experienced batsmen or bowler other than Mahendra Singh Dhoni played for India in ODIs was Virender Sehwag who played way back in January, 2013.
The team has been in the phase of transition for more than an year now and they say the team needs time and trust. How can an Indian cricket aficionado trust his team which has been experimenting for so long now that the World Cup has started sending greetings?
The pathetic captaincy led to some awkward selections that eventually led to some piteous performance, which ultimately brought the team on floor against a team that never looked a strong contender on papers. But as they say, cricket is a beautiful game of uncertainty.
The top order never gave a decent start, which turned out to be the biggest problem with the team and Dhoni experimented with Kohli in a game that turned out to be a failed attempt. The spinners turned out to be the only face-savers with some economical display of spin and they were the ones who helped the team with bat too as one of the best matches in ODI was played during the series when Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin came out with flying colours by ending a game on tie, when the team had lost all the hopes.
The New Zealand on the other hand had a dream run throughout the tournament as each and every player performed with efforts and grabbed the win for their team from the world champions. Kane Williamson scored five consecutive half-centuries, only second player to do so in a five-match ODI series.
The Indian team needs to be more concentrated and wise during the course of the game as Dhoni again found it tough to win abroad. The team’s selection strategies should be the one to be looked upon closely and the support staffs need to pull up their socks as the test series awaits the demolished Indian team. Though team will have the service of likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Zaheer Khan in the tests, the New Zealand team, fresh from the deserving win in the ODI series will be looking towards continuing with winning streak in tests too.
As the curtains closed for the ODI series, both the teams have started preparing for the test series.