India went into the Ranchi ODI as favourites, hoping MS Dhoni would seal the series on his home ground. But, that wasn’t to be the case. On the contrary, India went on to lose the match, which means both India and New Zealand will head into the Vizag with a chance of winning the series. Having come into the ODI series after being thrashed 3-0 in the Tests, New Zealand have done commendably well to square the series 2-2. There have been many moments across the four matches where they have been on the back foot, but they found a way out through tenacity.
When India look back at the match, they will again rue their over-dependency on Virat Kohli. It was clear the way the match results had progressed that the hosts are heavily reliant on their Test captain. The two games which India have won in the series have been primarily due to significant contributions from Kohli. On Wednesday as well, he was looking set to flourish, but his dismissal against the run of play set India back, and they couldn’t recover from that point. The fact that India have failed to win any one-dayer in the series without a big contribution from Kohli is hugely worrying.
India’s batting at Ranchi was terribly disappointing, to put it bluntly. Rohit Sharma registered his fourth failure of the series in a row. Given that India are missing Shikhar Dhawan, and also the fact that the middle-order is hugely inexperienced, Rohit was expected to shoulder additional responsibility. But, he just hasn’t been up to the challenge. His failure, as much as Kohli’s success, has been responsible for the position India find themselves in at present in the series. Before the series, there was pressure on Rohit over his Test spot. A few more failures, and his one-day spot could also be shaky.
With some of the seniors rested, many batsmen were given opportunities in this series. Unfortunately, most have failed to grab the same, as a result of which, India find themselves on par with the Kiwis, with one match to go. Ajinkya Rahane got a fifty at last at Ranchi, but being the set batsman, he should have carried on. The series was a golden opportunity for the likes of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav to establish their credentials, but both have blown their chances away. With the series on the line, they might not get another lifeline.
New Zealand, on the other hand, would be most pleased with their all-round effort. Although Ross Taylor continued to struggle, the other out-of-form batsman, Martin Guptill, came up with what proved to be a match-winning knock. Tom Latham and Kane Williamson also chipped in well. With the ball, the New Zealanders were superb in defence. Tim Southee and Trent Boult proved why they are an extremely dangerous opening pair in the format. Jimmy Neesham also came up with a couple of big blows, while Mitchell Santner’s impressive all-round ability again came to the fore.
--By A Cricket Analyst