Why the series loss against New Zealand is a harsh reality check for the Indian team
- The Indian side needs to go back and analyze what went wrong and get back on their feet for the upcoming challenges that lie ahead.
The year 2019 seemed like a fairy tale for Indian cricket. The World No.1 Test side drew the final Test against Australia in Sydney, and with that, the Indian team scripted history by winning a Test series against Australia in their own backyard for the first time. The argument of two of Australia’s key batsman, David Warner and Steve Smith not playing was drowned out by the overwhelming emotions of a historic series win Down Under.
Then, the side beat New Zealand 4-1 in the ODI series last year when they toured Kiwi land. In the 2019 World Cup, one bad day ruined the tournament for India, as they succumbed to New Zealand in a closely fought semi-final.
India then trounced West Indies in all three formats when they toured the Caribbean. The Windies outfit did not even win a single match at home as India were all over their opposition. India then thrashed South Africa 3-0 in the Test series at home, and followed that up by trouncing Bangladesh in the two Test series.
India again faced the Windies at home in a three-match ODI series, and won it 2-1. Australia came visiting India in the beginning of 2020, and India again won the ODI series 2-1. The side under Virat Kohli was on top of the world. They had conquered all the teams that they faced in 2019, and New Zealand awaited the Indian side the following year.
India started the tour really well by winning the T20 series 5-0. Even though the score line might not suggest how closely fought the series was (two matches were decided through a Super Over), credit should be given to the Indian side for holding their nerve in crunch situations.
The catastrophe begins
Then, the catastrophe began. The side was thrashed 0-3 in the ODI series, with the Kiwis bouncing back in splendid fashion. Then, came the biggest disaster of all. The Indian team did not even put up a fight and surrendered meekly to the hosts in the Test series. India were thrashed in both the Tests and both the matches did not even enter the fifth day. That the highest run scorer for India in the Test series, Mayank Agarwal averaged 25.50 is proof enough to the fact that the famed Indian batting line up came up a cropper when faced with swinging and seaming conditions.
The side’s premier batman and Indian skipper Kohli failed to cross the 20-run mark in each of the four innings that he played in the series. Kohli was caught unawares by the moving ball and failed to get going in both the ODI and Test series. Cheteshwar Pujara, a man whose defensive technique is one of the best in modern day cricket had his stumps uprooted in both the Tests by a savage Trent Boult.
Ajinkya Rahane came a cropper against some determined short pitched stuff from the Kiwi paceman. The right-hander averaged a miserable 22.75 in the Test series. Rishabh Pant continued to disappoint yet again. In the entire series, the wicket keeper batsman could manage just 60 runs at an average of 15.00.
This was abject surrender by the World’s No.1 Test side. They did not even put up a fight in the series and were all at sea in foreign conditions.
A reality check
In 2019, apart from a tour of the Caribbean, India never played a single Test series away from home. Their success had actually masked the fact that India did not face any significant challenge in the whole of 2019.They had mostly played in the comfort of the sub-continent and thrashed every team that came their way. Now, the World’s No.1 Test side has got a taste of their own medicine. They were trounced 0-2 in their first overseas tour of 2020 in the Test series. Once they were out of their comfort zone, they were caught completely unawares.
This Test series will indeed act as a reality check for the Indian cricket team. They need to go back and analyze what went wrong, and get back on their feet for the upcoming challenges that lie ahead.
Published 03 Mar 2020, 23:52 IST