New Zealand may have surprised themselves with the scoreline in the one-day series. As their skipper Brendon McCullum kept on saying that India is the number one ranked team in the world and the world champions, and the awe in his voice whenever he spoke about the Indian team was a genuine one.
What India’s performance did was simply show that in multi country events they are a different team, and when it comes to bilateral series, even at home, they are not the same force. The ease with which they won the Champions Trophy in June in England is testimony to how well they play in multilateral events, and the struggle against an Australian one-day team which was playing without its captain and some other star players also shows that in a country v country series, they are unable to raise the level of their game. It could well be a mental aspect where they feel that they have to live up to the expectations in World Cup events.
The New Zealand loss was more due to both the batsmen and the bowlers not playing to their potential. Usually, one aspect of the team clicks and makes up for the failure of the other aspect. This time it did not happen, so the inability to win even one game. The most glaring aspect was the lack of application in both batting and bowling. Batsmen kept making the same mistakes and the bowlers too bowled the same length which was punished. The absence of a plan B meant that once plan A came unstuck, there was nothing to fall back on.
The lack of faith in the reserve players also meant that the regulars knew that despite their failures they would get yet another chance. That is why it was essential to try out the reserve players in the inconsequential final game of the series, but by sticking to those who had failed, the impression given is that there is no confidence in the reserve players. It could be that, or the apprehension that if given as extended a run as the regular failures, the reserves may show they are better and usurp the places of the failures.
Indian cricket history is littered with examples of teams in the past tending to become a bit of a club where outsiders were not usually welcome, and this team also is giving that flavour with the way the reserve players are being treated. Playing and winning together does give a certain sense of comfort with each other, but like everything in life, there is need to regenerate and fine tune to get better. The quicker it is done, the better for Indian cricket.
Professional Management Group