India were whitewashed 0-3 in the ODI series and a few positives and negatives stood out from the series.
India suffered their first ODI whitewash in 31 years as New Zealand, after being humbled 0-5 in the T20Is, roared back to win the ODIs 3-0. Will this shatter India's confidence ahead of the Test series? Is India's ODI form off the radar? Here are a few takeaways from the series that explores the above questions.
Shreyas Iyer - KL Rahul - Manish Pandey
While the series loss was indeed heart wrenching to watch, India seem to have found a long-term solution for their middle-order woes. Shreyas Iyer top scored in the series with 217 runs at an average of 72.33. His position at no. 4 had been sealed even before the series began, although questions remained on who would follow him.
This series provided answers to that as KL Rahul blasted 204 runs in three games from the no. 5 position. The opening batsman was moved down the order after taking up the wicket-keeping gloves and shone in a middle-overs plus finishing role.
That India made competitive scores even with the openers and Virat Kohli misfiring is indeed a massive boost. Furthermore, they also seem to have found their ideal no.6 in Manish Pandey. Although he played just the final game, Pandey shone with a composed 42 and he had also shown glimpses of form in the T20Is. The dream of a stable middle-order might well be materializing after this wretched series.
Do they fit in India's ODI plans anymore?
- Shardul Thakur - The pace bowler was backed throughout the series by the management but conceded runs at an economy of 8.06 while picking up just four wickets. Aside from the one T20I where he restricted the Kiwis in the final over to force a Super Over, Thakur failed to impress.
- Kuldeep Yadav - While Yuzvendra Chahal topped the wickets charts with 6 wickets in the series at an impressive average, his wrist spin twin was unimpressive in his only outing, conceding runs at a rate of 8.4. Kuldeep's poor economy rate and lack of wickets in last few games is a worrying sign and probably a cue for India to move on from him as teams have started deciphering his mystery.
- Kedar Jadhav - The all-rounder has done little wrong in ODIs in a role where there's only been so much to do with a consistent top-order. But with Jadhav not used with the ball anymore, does he add more value than a Rishabh Pant or Manish Pandey at no.6? He is about to be 35 this year and won't be around for sure in 2023. Is there a point in sticking with him anymore?
Kohli and Mayank's form heading into the Tests
Mayank Agarwal made his ODI debut this series but this has been a terrible tour for one of India's most consistent Test batsmen in recent times. His scores in the India A tour of New Zealand and in the ODIs fail to ooze any kind of confidence.
Mayank Agarwal since landing in New Zealand:
A-tour: 8, 32, 29, 37, 24, 0, 0.
ODIs: 32, 3, 1.
With Rohit Sharma also ruled out of the Test series, India have concerns at the top of the order if Mayank can't find his feet. The ball swings around in New Zealand early and the openers play the key role of shielding the middle-order from the early storm. Can Mayank ride past his poor form to do that in the Tests?
As much as the opener, Virat Kohli's form is a matter of concern for India. The India skipper was off-colour throughout the ODI series, a first in a long time, and made just 75 runs in three matches even when New Zealand missed their strike bowler and Kohli's nemesis Trent Boult. Kohli's form heading into the Test series is suspect and India will want him finding his rhythm in the lone warm-up game.
Can Bumrah find his rhythm?
Bumrah's return after injury was awaited by Indian fans but the seamer has apparently lacked the cutting edge that made him a world-beating pace bowler since returning. In his last six ODIs, Bumrah has snared just one wicket - that of a tail-ender in Adam Zampa - and has gone for above five runs per over in four of these six games.
Bumrah in last six ODIs
- 7-0-50-0 v Australia Mumbai
- 9.1-2-32-1 v Australia Rajkot
- 10-0-38-0 v Australia Bengaluru
- 10-1-53-0 v New Zealand Hamilton
- 10-0-64-0 v New Zealand Auckland
- 10-0-50-0 v New Zealand Mount Maunganui
That batsmen have decided to play him out in the format and did that successfully is only one half of the story. Bumrah's rhythm seems off since returning from injury - a possibly hasty return - and India could well find themselves in a soup if he does not fire in the Tests as well.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Michael Bradley