It must be a sense of déjà vu for Indian cricket. It was in 2002 that they suffered humiliating defeats in both the One-day and Test series in New Zealand, always a tough place for touring teams. But unlike those reverses on seaming pitches, conditions have not been heavily tilted in favour of the hosts this time.
India went into their second challenging series without a warm-up game. In South Africa, it led to the 0-2 ODI series defeat. They were saved in the third after rain at the halfway stage.
The Kiwis pacemen have constantly asked questions of India’s more experienced unit, batsmen. But on this tour, the bowlers have left the batsmen to do too much while the batsmen have not been up to the task when the bowlers did present them with an outside chance, as on Friday in the final ODI at the Westpac Stadium.
Barring Virat Kohli, only MS Dhoni has fought it out consistently. MS Dhoni, who has lashed out at his bowlers, on Friday blamed the batsmen for not showing any initiative.
“You can’t rely on couple of batsmen… apart from the one game (the tie in Auckland), we have been behind, only been doing the catching up,” he was scathing. Without naming anyone, he said: “We need to back ourselves to play shots, or the kind of cricket we are known to play. To some extent, we got bogged down, didn’t try a different thing.
“You may lose a few games, but it’s also important to see the kind of attitude you bring into the game, nd try to play aggressive cricket. If you get out, you get out. Wat is important is to have a positive intent right from the start. It does not always mean looking for the big shots. It comes in defending a ball or looking for single. That’s a change we’ll have to do.”
The statistics from India’s middle over bowling basically tells the sad tale. He admitted the failure to break partnerships led to defeats. “The middle over bowling is something we have to see what we can do, how we can improve so that the opposition can't score freely in the middle overs. We have also not got wickets in the middle overs which means they have wickets in hand in the last 15 overs and they have scored freely.”
1ST ODI -- 7.4 overs to 33rd overs – third wicket – 121 runs
2nd ODI – 20.5 – 34.1 overs – third wicket – 60 runs
3rd ODI – 4.2 – 32.5 – second wicket – 153 runs
4th ODI – 8.1 – 34.2 – third wicket -- 130
5th ODI – 12.2 – 37.3 – third wicket – 152 runs