3. The emergence of Ambati Rayudu
The Indian batting has been highly dependent on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in recent times. The ODI series against Australia saw the much-needed return of MS Dhoni, who won the Man of the Series award with his 193 runs in 3 games.
The ODI series against the Kiwis saw Ambati Rayudu score big runs as he emerged as the highest run scorer of the series with 190 runs and an average of 63.33. The most impressive aspect about Rayudu’s performance in the final ODI was the way he converted his slow start with a strike rate of 60 to a strike rate of 79.64 at the end, finishing on 90 off 113 balls.
Rayudu had earlier made a crucial unbeaten 40 off 42 balls in the 3rd ODI where he and Dinesh Karthik stitched together a partnership of 77 runs for the 4th wicket to take India to a 7 wicket win.
4. The performance of Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya as all-rounders
The Indian team had been struggling to score runs at the death overs in the matches prior to this series. However, Kedar Jadhav made a quickfire 22 off 10 balls in the 2nd ODI and, along with Dhoni who scored an unbeaten 48 off 33 balls, took the total to an imposing 324.
Apart from that, Jadhav also stitched together a crucial 74-run partnership with Rayudu in the final ODI. Jadhav picked up the all-important wicket of Kane Williamson in the final ODI too, giving his side the edge. He had earlier picked up the wicket of Henry Nicholls in the 1st ODI and that of Ross Taylor in the 2nd ODI.
Hardik Pandya made his return to the side after being temporarily suspended post the “Koffee with Karan” controversy. Pandya smashed the Kiwis all around the park in the 5th ODI where he scored 45 off 22 balls which comprised of 5 sixes and 2 fours.
Pandya’s late blast took India to a total of 252. He also picked up 4 wickets in 3 games with an economy rate of 5.23.