Much to the surprise of most cricket fans, India registered a dominant 4-1 victory over Kiwis in the five-match ODI series played in New Zealand.
The hosts have a very capable side but their inability to deal with good spin bowling proved to be the decisive factor in their disappointing loss.
With the World Cup just a few months away, this was an important contest for both sides. The two teams have emerged out of it with contrasting moods: India upbeat and New Zealand concerned.
For the Indian side, the momentum continues to build as the Virat Kohli-led side seeks to bring the World Cup trophy back to India after men-in-blue relinquished it in 2015.
The Black-Caps, on the other hand, don’t seem to have the same fluency and buoyant spirit that characterized their 2015 campaign – their best in a World Cup.
With the series done and dusted, let’s look at the repercussions it’s going to have and the four main takeaways for both the teams.
#4 The Reassuring Performance of Indian Middle-Order
The Indian ODI side under Virat Kohli has only lost one ODI series so far since he took over in 2017.
The reason for this domination have been many – the emergence of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as wicket-taking spin-twins, Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar providing an ideal ODI pace bowling pair and last, but not the least, the dominance of India’s top three.
But one chink in the armour was the over-reliance on Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.
These three have been very consistent, especially Virat and Rohit, but the middle order has often let India down.
Before the Australia series, this was the biggest worry for Kohli’s team. The under-performance of Dhoni and uncertainty about other batsmen must have exercised the minds of the Indian team’s administration.
But this issue has been put to bed with Dhoni returning to his old reassuring style of play and men like Rayudu and Jadhav showing that they are more than capable of succeeding at this level.
This is the biggest gain for India as it puts the last piece of the puzzle in their World Cup preparations in place.
The Indian team now looks fully prepared to embark on the campaign for their third World title.