In my opinion, over the past 40 years, there have been three great teams that played their best cricket across the World – the West Indies under Lloyd, Pakistan under Imran and Australia under Ponting. The one big reason for their consistently great performances was the high quality bowling that they possessed. India, despite having produced wonderful cricketers, have rarely been dominant for any reasonable period of time. The biggest reason for that was the lack of bowling depth. It seems to me that this is about to change. India might be at the start of a period that they are going to dominate. The reason for that is the bowling depth. Today’s match at Napier seems to portend to this golden period that awaits this Indian bunch.
In the series that is billed as the dress rehearsal for the World Cup, the start has been a disappointment. India were dominant from the beginning of the match. India put their foot on the throat of the Kiwis from the first over of Shami and choked the Kiwis to death!
What worked and What didn’t?
When a bowling unit dismisses a top class New Zealand batting team for 157 runs in 38 overs, on a good batting pitch, all you do is to doff your hat and say “Well bowled!”. When nine of the ten wickets are shared by three bowlers, it is the work of a pack of hounds that hunt to a plan. Shami, Kuldeep and Chahal bowled with intelligence and dare to test and tempt the Kiwis to give their wickets away.
Shami could have had Guptil any number of ways today. That he picked him up with an incoming delivery was only incidental. Guptil looked all at sea against Shami. Colin Munro chanced his arm and perished to it. Ross Taylor and Tom Latham were deceived by the flight and dip of Chahal. If not for some ordinary fielding and catching, the Indian bowling unit would have dismissed the Kiwis for a score even lower than 157. Kedar Jadhav dropped a sitter off Kane Williamson. Virat would want his fielders to support his bowlers better in the coming matches.
Kuldeep wrapped up the lower order batsmen using his guile and mystery. He was rarely challenged today. Hopefully, the next matches will present testing situations, where he will be forced to defend.
VijayShankar’s bowling looked fairly pedestrian. Kedar dropped Williamson off Vijay’s bowling. But, that ball did not deserve a wicket. It was only during his overs did the Kiwis get to breathe, in an otherwise suffocating spell of bowling from India.
Shikar and Kohli scored the majority of the runs to take India to a very easy victory. Shikar’s batting will be the big positive coming out of this match for the Indian team . Otherwise, it was business as usual for the batting unit.
The Kiwis came into this series after making tons of runs against the Sri Lankans. The experts on the various preview shows on TV, predicted a high scoring duel. Unfortunately, the Kiwis did not look the part from the start. Kane Williamson was the only top order batsman that looked comfortable against the varied Indian attack. He played some delectable shots through his innings.
On their day, this Kiwi batting unit bats very deep. So, in the coming matches India should expect them to come back strongly.
To effect their comeback, the Kiwis would do well to have a look at how the English team bounced back against India in their ODI series in 2018. The English team was mauled by Kuldeep and Co at Manchester. The English went back and devised a good batting plan against the Indian attack for the subsequent matches. Consequently, they won the ODIs that followed and beat Virat’s team comprehensively in the series. There in lies the clue for the Kiwis.
A bowling unit rarely looks forward to bowling with a low score to defend and a good pitch to achieve it. This is what the Kiwi bowlers faced today in the second half of the match. The fact that they had to depend on the Sun to disturb the Indian batsmen, is proof enough that they did not enjoy the situation!
Boult and Southee bowled very well at the start. Initially, the Indian batsmen, particularly Shikar, scored runs of many streaky strokes. On another day, they would have removed Shikar and Rohit much earlier. Apart from these two World class seamers, the other bowlers looked ordinary. Shikar and Virat made merry!
However, much like their batting, this Kiwi bowling unit is strong as well. They will look to bounce back in the next match. The fact that the next match is going to be played in an exotically name place called Mount Maunganui, they had better conjure up their inner Maori to trouble the Indian batters.
The first match of this ‘big’ ODI series has turned out to be a one sided contest. However, the Kiwis are a strong team and one hopes that they will put up a better performance in the coming matches. If not, this Indian juggernaut will roll all over the Kiwis and even a ‘Mount’ will not be able stop them!
For detailed scorecard, please visit Cricinfo