Starting from struggling with swing and seam, inadequate preparation, falling bats and New Zealand’s dominant bowling were all contributing factors.
As India prepare to regain supremacy in the longest format of the game against Australia, let’s look at how the Kiwi defeat provides valuable lessons and areas for improvement, reinforcing the need for better preparation, adaptation and batsmanship in high pressure situations.
Swing and Seam Struggle
One of the main reasons for India’s defeat can be seen as difficulty in tackling the swing and seam. English conditions at the Rose Bowl stadium in Southampton favored NZ’s pace attack, allowing their skilled bowlers to exploit the situation. The Indian batters struggled to cope with the moving ball, losing crucial wickets. A case in point was Virat Kohli’s dismissal: due to concerns about the incoming ball, he played the ball wide and threw it over the keeper. Kyle Jamieson, who was the main destroyer, forced Indian batters to press his pitches beyond the off-stump, but kept getting the ball back. Not only Kohli, but all of India’s famous top five players struggled with the moving ball, dropping in the lbw position or going sideways.
Lack of preparation and acclimatization
After an average game in the first inning, Indian bats lasted only 73 ounces in the second. The skill of the Kiwi bowlers forced Indian batters to play on balls they otherwise would have left behind. The Lbz and Inswingers probably played the minds in the first inning and then came back to haunt them in the second inning. The batters also lacked preparation and acclimatization to English conditions. Prior to the final, the Indian team had limited experience playing red ball cricket in English conditions. In contrast, New Zealand played two Test matches against England just before the final, gained valuable experience and adapted better to the conditions.
Players like Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson demonstrated their exceptional skill and accuracy, using the conditions to constantly trouble the Indian batters. None of the Indian batters hit 50, as Jamieson troubled them with his high exit point, something Josh Hazelwood could not do.
India picked two spinners, R Ashwin and Rav.Indra Jadeja after wimThe first day, but both combined to score only 22 ounces in the first inning. New Zealand led 162-6, but ended up with 249 points and a 47-point lead. The Indian bowlers just couldn’t get ahead. And when the New Zealanders crushed the Indian lineup on the final morning, the game went in one direction. At the start of the last day, India led 64-2, but collapsed and were knocked out by a score of 170.
The Indians needed 139 for 53 to win, but they could not break Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor: both scored unbeaten fifties and helped New Zealand win by 8 wickets.
This time, without Bamra, India’s bowling headache has increased. They will have to pick their combinations carefully: will they use Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav and choose between R. Ashwin and Shardul Thakur, as Australian bowling coach Daniel Vettori expects. The pitch at the Oval usually plays well before providing some help to the spinners, but the current conditions will need to be evaluated. That’s where the absence of a player like Hardik Pandya could hurt. More importantly, the absence of India’s most prolific Test player in recent memory, Rishabh Pant, continues to upset India’s balance sheet.