Rohit Sharma took a few extra seconds to recall what India would do after winning the toss in the second ODI in Raipur on Saturday. But it appeared as if New Zealand had completely forgotten how to bat on a surface having a little bit of assistance for the quicks.
India’s bowlers cashed in on the Black Caps’ inept showing. Led by Mohammed Shami (3/18) and Mohammed Siraj (1/10)’s early spells, they bundled the visitors out for a paltry 108 in 34.3 overs.
With a meagre target to chase down, skipper Rohit’s 50-ball 51 and his opening partner Shubman Gill’s unbeaten 40 took India home in just 20.1 overs as they thrashed New Zealand by eight wickets and clinched yet another home series with a game to spare.
This was India’s seventh straight ODI series victory at home since December 2019. Their preparation for the 50-over World Cup later this year certainly seems to be going well at present, especially the current form of Gill and Siraj, who has matured fast.
The pitch at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium did have good purchase for the fast bowlers early on and Shami and Siraj made the most of it with their fine use of the seam.
The seam movement obtained by India’s new-ball bowlers had simply marooned the New Zealand batsmen as they couldn’t even rotate the strike inside the first Powerplay, forget playing the big strokes.
It was quite baffling to see the New Zealand batters surrender in this manner as they have all grown up playing on similar or even greener wickets back home. So calling the Raipur conditions alien to the New Zealanders would of course be incorrect.
Captain Rohit Sharma celebrates after completing his half-century on Saturday. PTI photo
Nonetheless, for Shami in particular, this performance was certainly a much-needed one. He wasn’t proving to be too effective lately and was taken to the cleaners by Michael Bracewell in the previous game in Hyderabad.
Just at the right time, Shami worked his way back and picked up Bracewell as one of his three scalps, surprising the last match’s centurion with a well-directed short delivery that led to the left-handed batter’s undoing. That strike by Shami further dented New Zealand’s attempt at a fightback through Glenn Phillips and Bracewell after being reduced to 15/5 by the 11th over.
“Whenever I start, I just focus on maintaining the right lines and lengths,” Man of the Match Shami said.
“But it does happen sometimes that you bowl well and yet don’t get wickets. On other days you may not be in rhythm, but you still get wickets. That happens. But the most important thing is to be in rhythm.”
Importantly, such a showing by the experienced pacer also keeps him in a good rhythm ahead of the four-Test series against Australia next month. India may rest some of their regulars for the inconsequential ODI in Indore on Tuesday, but the senior pacer is in favour of more game time.
“It’s always better to play more games to get ready for a big event. Our workload is also being managed properly. I just hope the main players stay in a good zone,” Shami stated.
Hardik Pandya, expensive the other evening, also deserves credit for taking a brilliant return catch to dismiss Devon Conway and then varying his pace a little to send a set Mitchell Santner back to bury the visitors’ fightback hopes.
Ashwin backs hosts
New Delhi: Ravichandran Ashwin feels India have quality in their ranks to adapt to the home conditions during the ODI World Cup later this year, even as the premier off-spinner urged the ICC to take corrective steps for a “dew-free” tournament.
“Yes, I certainly believe that India’s chance of defending the 2011 home World Cup is really high,” he said on his YouTube channel.
“India’s ODI home record ever since the 2019 World Cup finished is extremely impressive. India have won against every team that has travelled to India in this space, which are West Indies, Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka. It’s a 78 to 80 per cent win record in India,” Ashwin said.