New Zealand vs India 2020: Shreyas Iyer has ended No. 4 debate feels VVS Laxman
India might have lost the ODI series to New Zealand but there were certainly a few positives to take from the 3-match series. The riddle surrounding the No. 4 position has finally taken a backseat for India and even VVS Laxman, the former Indian batsman feels the same. The rise of Shreyas Iyer has been quite phenomenal in the T20I and the ODI series and he has taken to the spot with open hands.
The stylish right-hander scored his maiden ODI century in the 1st match of the series and followed it up with a couple of half-centuries. Even during the T20I series, he smashed a match-winning half-century and followed it up with crucial knocks of 44 and 33. Along with Iyer, KL Rahul also provided the much-needed impetus towards the later part of the innings and emerged as a perfect No. 5 for India in white-ball cricket.
In his column for The Times of India, Laxman wrote,
“The batting was shored up resourcefully by Shreyas Iyer, who has ended the discussion on the No. 4 slot, and KL Rahul, who once again showcased his versatility, but the lack of penetration was exposed by New Zealand in general, and their openers in particular.”
The absence of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order meant that Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal made their ODI debuts in the series. However, the new opening pair was unable to provide the much-needed start which put India under pressure in the middle overs.
Barring a 50-run stand in the opening ODI, Agarwal and Shaw were far from impressive. Shaw got off to delightful starts but was unable to convert them into a big one. Despite their below-par performances, India managed to put up fighting totals on the boards which were largely possible due to the contribution of the middle order. Laxman was of the opinion that,
“The start of any innings, be it with bat or ball, sets the tone for what is to follow. Apart from their half-century stand in the first ODI, openers Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw haven’t strung together a partnership. When three wickets fall in the first quarter of the innings, including that of the best batsman in the side, if not the world, it’s never easy to recover and post a substantial total.”
Laxman also praised Manish Pandey in his piece,
“That India managed to do so was thanks to the growing maturity and influence in the middle order of Shreyas and Rahul, both capable of playing at more than one gear, both situationally aware, and both adept at the waiting and the power game. Manish Pandey added a new dimension with his smartness in running, but the lack of firepower once Rahul and Pandey were dismissed off successive deliveries left India maybe 25 runs short.”
India’s fielding woes continued in the ODI series which was one of the reasons behind their downfall in the 50 overs format. In the 1st ODI, Ross Taylor was dropped by Kuldeep Yadav on 12 and the veteran batsman went on to smash a match-winning century as the Kiwis chased down a stiff target of 348. Laxman said that the Indian team management will be disappointed by the bowling and fielding performance from the Men in Blue.
Laxman felt India was a little short in every department, and that while New Zealand responded to a 0-5 blanking in the T20 internationals, thier reverse weep of 3-0 was not only due to thier spirited efforts but also in small measure aided by a fumbling Indian side, something that the captain and the management must take cognisance of.