The Kiwis have gone about their game with verve
The spunky New Zealanders have gone about their cricket with verve. In contrast, the Indians have been flat.
So far, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have lacked imagination. Now, they find themselves in a hole with the score reading 0-2 in the five-match ANZ ODI series.
Without taking anything away from the fighting Kiwis, it must be said that the Indians have played ordinary cricket.
It can also be argued that the relentless pressure from the Kiwis, the calculated onslaughts with the bat, and the intent in the bowling and brilliant fielding, have put the Indians under enormous stress. Resultantly, mistakes have followed.
For India, it’s not just about regaining the No. 1 ranking in the remaining three matches — an uphill task — it’s also about putting together a combative team by plugging the holes.
Considering the ICC ODI World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand next year, India has to find the missing pieces.
In its last five ODIs — three in South Africa and two here — the Indian bowling has conceded 358, 280, 301, 292 and 271.
But for the hard working Mohammed Shami, the bowling has been toothless.
In fact, apart from Shami’s 16 wickets — he has operated with aggression — the rest of the Indian bowlers have struggled to pick wickets. Take the case of off-spinner R. Ashwin, someone the team looks up to.
In these five matches, he has scalped just one batsman.
Here Dhoni’s single conceding fields have allowed the batsmen to rotate the strike and build partnerships in the middle overs.
India has to bowl more dot balls even if that demands more fielders in the circle.
On his part, Ashwin should bowl more from over the wicket and back himself to spin the ball into the right-hander.
Imparting revolutions on the ball, using his body more in action and flighting the sphere will make Ashwin a different bowler.
Whenever he bowls round the wicket to the right-hander — the ploy might be to give lesser width — he appears a lesser threat.
The virtues of teasing flight cannot be over-emphasised. When Ravindra Jadeja gave the ball air and had a well-settled Kane Williamson stumped at Seddon Park, it made for great viewing.
Why don’t the Indian spinners attack more? The ball is spun in the air — conditions do not matter if serious revolutions propel the ball. Deception has to be the key. Striking is the best way to slow the run-rate.
The Kiwis are setting themselves up in the middle-overs to launch into the Indian bowlers in the final phase.
Ishant Sharma has bowled without rhythm and has had issues with his line.
Given his levels of confidence, he should be rested for the remaining ODIs and asked to focus on the Tests.
India would need a bowler to send down long spells against the strong winds in these parts in the Tests.
Ishant has the stamina. The speedy Varun Aaron will lend greater bite to the Indian attack in the ODIs. His instinct is to go for wickets.
The Kiwis have bowled to a plan. While Tim Southee has pitched the ball up and swung it around, left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan has bounced at the Indians.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have disappointed. Ambati Rayudu — he copes with bounce capably — deserves a look-in.
And what would India not give to possess Corey Anderson’s power-hitting and handy left-arm pace?
This Kiwi has been simply sensational.