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India vs NZ ODI series: Dhoni’s young guns have task cut out in decider

After a setback against New Zealand in Ranchi, Dhoni’s boys will look to keep home record against Kiwis intact.

cricket Updated: Oct 29, 2016 08:33 IST
Harit N Joshi
Hardik Pandya, Dhawal Kulkarni, Manish Pandey and Jasprit Bumrah during a practice session in Visakhapatnam on Friday.
Hardik Pandya, Dhawal Kulkarni, Manish Pandey and Jasprit Bumrah during a practice session in Visakhapatnam on Friday.(Subhendu Ghosh/HT Photo)

Dark clouds hovered over the ACA-VDCA Stadium on the eve of the series-deciding clash between India and New Zealand. The downpour on Thursday night left some dampness around the bowlers’ run-up when India arrived for their optional training session on Friday morning.

If Saturday’s ODI doesn’t go in their favour, it would be MS Dhoni’s second consecutive series defeat on home soil. A lot of introspection would take place as India have been a dominant force in ODIs at home, losing only two series (to Pakistan in 2012 and South Africa). After South Africa won their first bilateral ODI series last year, Dhoni & Co would be determined not to let the Kiwis create history. India were expected to dominate the visitors after whitewashing them in the Test series 3-0, but Kane Williamson’s side fought hard to level the ODI series.

The pressure would be on India to bring their ‘A’ game. Barring Virat Kohli, the other batsmen haven’t been consistent. A lot was expected of Rohit Sharma, but he has looked out of sorts, scoring just 53 in four matches. With wickets being on the slower side, Rohit went for his shots early on and paid the price.

It was hoped Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav would steer the middle order once Dhoni promoted himself to No 4, but the duo has disappointed with 76 and 51 in four matches. What has hurt the team is neither Pandey nor Jadhav showed the intent to drop anchor when wickets fell in a flurry in Delhi and Ranchi.

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“Obviously, the opportunity has been missed, especially in the last game. But it’s still early stages for Manish (Pandey) and me. We need to grab whatever opportunity is thrown at us. We need to learn quickly from the opportunities we have missed. That’s what international cricket is all about – delivering when it matters most to the team,” said Jadhav. He, however, has been a revelation with the ball, giving India crucial breakthroughs. Jadhav has claimed six wickets at an economy rate of 4.05. “My action and pace (which) I vary according to the batsman makes it difficult to read,” said Jadhav.

Hardik Pandya, who is looked upon as someone who can finish the game, took India agonisingly close to victory in Delhi but his 36-run knock wasn’t enough to take the team through. In Ranchi too, he didn’t deliver.

Pandya was off-colour with the ball too since his dream ODI debut in Dharamsala, where he claimed 3/31. Axar Patel’s role was to back Amit Mishra’s good work, but the left-arm spinner has managed to claim only two wickets in four matches. He , however, got some runs (38) in Ranchi.

It is now up to Dhoni to lead from the front.

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