After whitewashing New Zealand in the T20I series, India lost their way in the ODI series as the hosts defeated them by 5 wickets in the 3rd ODI to win the 3-match series 3-0.
Opting to bowl first, the New Zealand bowlers did a fantastic job to get rid of India's top-three early, with 82 on the board. However, the Indian middle-order handled the situation well and thanks to their responsible batting India finished with 296-7 on the board in 50 overs.
Chasing 297, New Zealand openers Martin Guptill (66 runs off 46 balls) and Henry Nicholls (80 runs off 103 balls) added 106 runs (99 balls) for the first wicket. India did get a few wickets in the middle overs. But the 80-run partnership (46 balls) between Tom Latham (32 runs off 34 balls) and Colin de Grandhomme (58* off 28 balls) ensured that New Zealand cross the finish line without any trouble and helped to reach 300-5 to win the match with 2.5 overs to spare.
India would wonder what went wrong with them as they were whitewashed, so let's have a look at the three main reasons for India's third consecutive defeat of the series:
#1 Another top-order failure for India
India's misery with their top order, especially the openers continued in the 3rd ODI too. The new opening pair of Prithvi Shaw (40 runs off 42 balls) and Mayank Agarwal (1 run off 3 balls) once again failed to give India the much-needed start as the opening stand lasted for only 12 balls. The departure of Virat Kohli (9 runs off 12 balls) cheaply too pushed India on the backfoot.
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Agarwal departed for just one while Kohli fell to an uncontrolled shot off Hamish Bennett in the 8th over and the scoreboard read 32-2. Shaw did hit plenty of boundaries to keep the scoreboard moving but soon ran himself out for an individual score of 40, leaving India to struggle at 62-3 in the 13th over.
Despite being well-known as a top-heavy side, the Indian top-order looked below-par in the match as India's top three batsmen could not lay the foundation for the batsmen to come, making things difficult for India at that stage.
#2 The batsmen could not accelerate in the last 10 overs
After losing their top order for just 62 runs, India were in a spot of bother. However, the sensible batting of Shreyas Iyer (62 runs off 63 balls) and KL Rahul (112 runs off 113 balls) rescued the Indian innings and brought them back to a respectable position. After Iyer's departure, Manish Pandey (42 runs off 48 balls) joined Rahul in the middle and stitched a 107-run stand (97 balls) for the 5th wicket.
While both Rahul and Pandey kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and doubles, it was a bit surprising to see both the batsmen having a defensive approach when it came to hitting boundaries. Post the 40th over, the Rahul-Pandey pair hit only one four and two sixes before their departure in the 47th over. The next batsmen - Ravindra Jadeja (8* off 7 balls), Shardul Thakur (7 runs off 6 balls), and Navdeep Saini (8* off6 balls) got some boundaries and stole 27 runs off the last three overs, but those were never going to be enough to take India to a safe total.
India had lost just four wickets till the 40th over and had Rahul and Pandey at the crease. An aggressive approach from them could have helped India to score another 25-30 extra runs. But opting for a safe play in the last 10 overs made India to miss the advantage of those extra runs.
#3 India's ineffective fast bowling unit
The Indian fast bowlers were outstanding in the T20I series. However, it seemed as if they just lost their plot in the 50-over format. Despite the impressive performance by Yuzvendra Chahal (3/47) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/45), the fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah (0/50), Shardul Thakur (1/87) and Navdeep Saini (0/68) could not back them up by taking wickets at regular intervals and let the match slip out of India's hands.
All the three Indian fast bowlers looked toothless in front of New Zealand's batsmen and were taken for runs right from the beginning. The spinners did provide the breakthroughs, but the fast bowlers failed to grab those opportunities to take another couple of wickets to put pressure on New Zealand.
An efficient show by the Indian fast bowlers was necessary to win the 3rd ODI after being restricted to 296-7. But another loose performance by them handed India the third defeat of the series.