ALSO READ: MS Dhoni slogs it out ahead of series decider
Coming back to the series, the New Zealanders, after being thrashed in the three-match Test series, were expected to put up a much improved show in the One-dayers – a format which they have done well in over the years. Even though they managed to level the series, the Kiwis haven’t put in a dominant performance. Both matches which they won were close affairs as the Indians failed to hold their nerve. To the credit of the Kiwis + , they hung in when the going got tough and managed to keep the hosts from running away with the series and thereby making the final game a competitive one.
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The problem for them has been the inability of the batsmen to dominate the Indian bowling especially the spinners. In the Ranchi game, the Kiwis’ ploy to go after the pacers paid rich dividends as they garnered 80 runs in the first 10 overs. But once the spinners came on, they struggled and the final 10 overs yielded a ‘normal’ 61 runs.
ALSO READ: Under-fire Dhoni faces tricky Kiwis test in series-decider
Opener Tom Latham has been the most consistent batsman for the Kiwis in this series and skipper Kane Williamson has struck a century in the Delhi game, but the rest haven’t been consistent. The return to form of Martin Guptill augurs well for the visitors but the middle-order batsmen will have to give one final push if they fancy their chances against a determined India, who are keen on not losing the series. India’s problem has been finding a suitable replacement for skipper MS Dhoni + in the No.6 & 7 spot. The ageing warrior has slowed down and his inability to pull off his trademark strokes at the death has hurt the side much. He, has, however showed that he can still contribute to the side as he did with an 80 in the third game in Mohali. The trouble is that his move up the order makes life easy from him but it doesn’t solve the team’s concerns.
A finisher at the end of the innings – a role which ‘Captain Cool’ essayed with consummate ease for many years – is the call of the hour. The hosts have placed their trust in the likes of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav + and Hardik Pandya but the youngsters have not been able to deliver yet. However, Dhoni + has called for patience with the inexperienced batting.
While there is no doubt that India need to plan ahead especially keeping in mind the Champions Trophy, it’s the immediate future that counts and Dhoni & co will have to step up their game if they don’t want to dampen the festive mood.