It’s not the first time India have gone through a one-day series winless. They have been whitewashed in England in 2011, and lost the Common Wealth Bank series in Australia in 2012. Thereafter India strongly came back in the One Day International format and managed to climb to No.1 rankings.
After a successful 2013, India once again lost the one-day series in South Africa winless and now lost the one-day series in New Zealand 4-0, including a tie in third one-day match. A classic century from Ross Taylor and a dream spell from Matt Henry took New Zealand to a comprehensive 87-run win over India at Wellington. New Zealand’s score of 303 proved too much for India on a flat deck.
Dhoni was criticized for bowling first in this series. But he showed in the last game why he had made that decision. However yet again India bowlers failed to make an impression at Wellington. After winning the toss on a flat surface, Dhoni had no hesitation in bowling first. Since Bhuvneshwar Kumar lost his accuracy, he opened with Mohammad Shami in the first over. He was accurate in his line and length and didn’t give room for the openers to free their arms. It was the first time in the series; India had not conceded a boundary in the first over.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar also started pretty well as he troubled the openers with his accuracy along with swing. New Zealand openers Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill had no choice but to survive the initial period. They knew that they have batsman down the order who can exploit India’s death bowling weakness. So, their job was to not lose too many wickets inside the mandatory Power Play.
Both batsmen negotiated the new-ball well, and scored the first boundary in 36 balls which means India’s new-ball bowlers were effective. However New Zealand soon gathered the momentum and started attacking the India bowlers. As Guptill and Ryder were settled, MS Dhoni cleverly brought Varun Aaron into the attack in the 12th over.
Dhoni knew that Varun Aaron is capable of unsettling the batsmen with pace. That’s exactly what happened as he scalped the wicket of Guptill for 16. Before that Bhuvneshwar Kumar made the breakthrough as he got rid of the dangerous Ryder for 17. With the surface offering nothing for the seamers, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor did the bulk of damage in the middle order for New Zealand.
Kane Williamson can rotate the strike and Taylor is capable of playing big shots. What New Zealand needed was a good partnership which would help them to post a formidable score. These two batsmen have mutual understanding as they tackled the Indian spinners with patience in the fourth one-day match. They reproduced the same kind of performance and helped the Kiwis cross the 200-run mark in the 40th over.
At the start, Williamson was troubled by pace and bounce of Aaron. Taylor, on the other end, batted with ease. They re-constructed the innings with ease and were tackling the India spinners quite brilliantly. With the pitch offering no assistance for spinners, Williamson and Taylor rotated the strike. Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were not getting the turn. They were rather trying to control the scoring-rate and did not look to attack the batsmen. Had they attacked, Taylor’s century would have been in question.
Williamson and Taylor’s partnership of 152 runs laid a solid foundation for players like Brendon McCullum and Luke Ronchi to score the runs. The wicket of Williamson in the 38th over did not have an impact as McCullum and Neesham scored quickly which helped New Zealand post an imposing 303 runs.
None of the Indian bowlers had a good day with the ball with the exception of Mohammad Shami who bowled accurately with pace. Had he found support from other bowlers, India would have certainly had a chance in this match.
India’s innings once again rode on Virat Kohli who scored 82 and shared a 67 run-partnership with MS Dhoni for the fifth wicket to extend New Zealand’s chances of winning. But he did not find support from the openers and the middle order. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan didn’t fancy the swing of Kyle Mills and McClenaghan as they played couple of maiden overs. And the middle order Rahane and Rayudu didn’t stay at the crease for a long time. Perhaps they would have felt the nervousness while chasing a big score.
Apart from Virat Kohli, Dhoni was the one who fought a lost battle. Both of them have been consistent and handled the pressure situations quite well. They should have taken India home in the first one-day, but this one was too tough for them. Asking them to chase 225 runs in 27 overs with six wickets is really a tough ask. But Dhoni and Kohli managed to extend New Zealand’s chances, and however, with the wicket of Kohli, India’s hopes ended in 36th over.
Since the pitch was flat, Dhoni would have hoped for a better start from the openers. Dhawan would have enjoyed batting at this wicket, but good swing bowling with the new-ball made things tougher for the openers. Also the middle order Rahane and Rayudu didn’t fancy the bounce of New Zealand pacers and so, they could not make an impact. The situation they came into bat was not ideal. Asking the new players to win a game from 78/4 is something unwise. India were finally bowled out for 216.
With the defeat, India lose the No.1 rankings and has a mountain to climb ahead of the Test series and the England tour which begins in June. Dhoni must realize that experience should also be taken into account while selecting the squad. He should find proper bowling combination and middle order if India are to retain the crown.
Martin Guptill c Mohammed Shami b Aaron 16
Jesse Ryder c Rahane b Kumar 17
Kane Williamson c Rahane b Aaron 88
Ross Taylor c Dhawan b Mohammed Shami 102
Brendon McCullum c Sharma b Kohli 23
James Neesham not out 34
Luke Ronchi not out 11
Extras (b 1, lb 6, w 5) 12
Total (for five wickets in 50 overs) 303
Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Ryder, 7.4 overs), 2-41 (Guptill, 12.2), 3-193 (Williamson, 37.3), 4-243 (BB McCullum, 43.5), 5-274 (Taylor, 47.6)
Mohammed Shami 10-3-61-1
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 8-0-48-1
Varun Aaron 10-0-60-2
Ravichandran Ashwin 6-0-37-0
Ravindra Jadeja 9-0-54-0
Virat Kohli 7-0-36-1
Rohit Sharma c Taylor b Mills 4
Shikhar Dhawan c NL McCullum b Henry 9
Virat Kohli c sub (P Young-Husband) b NL McCullum 82
Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Henry 2
Ambati Rayudu c Williamson b Henry 20
Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Neesham b Williamson 47
Ravichandran Ashwin b Williamson 7
Ravindra Jadeja c Guptill b Mills 5
Bhuvneshwar Kumar c Ronchi b Henry 20
Mohammed Shami not out 14
Varun Aaron b Neesham 0
Extras (lb 1, w 4, nb 1) 6
Total (for all out in 49.4 overs) 216
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Sharma, 4.3 overs), 2-20 (Dhawan, 9.5), 3-30 (Rahane, 13.2), 4-78 (Rayudu, 23.6), 5-145 (Kohli, 36.1), 6-167 (Ashwin, 40.2), 7-174 (Jadeja, 41.5), 8-181 (Dhoni, 44.1), 9-215 (Kumar, 48.6), 10-216 (Aaron, 49.4)
Kyle Mills 10-1-35-2
Mitchell McClenaghan 10-0-45-0
Matt Henry 10-1-38-4
James Neesham 5.4-0-45-1
Nathan McCullum 10-1-33-1
Kane Williamson 4-0-19-2
Toss: India chose to field
Umpires: Billy Bowden and Rod Tucker
TV umpire: Derek Walker
Match referee: David Boon
Reserve umpire: Gary Baxter