India won yet another bilateral series beating New Zealand 3-0 in the ODIs and claimed the number one position in the ICC rankings as well. While Michael Bracewell and Mitchell Santner gave a serious scare in the first match, India dominated in the second and third ODIs.
The kite to the World Cup that was lifted against Sri Lanka now seems flying well. So much so that the Former England captain Michael Vaughan who is known to criticise the India team said that India are favourites to win the World Cup.
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While the World Cup is several months away, in October, the ODIs since the start of the year have gained significance. And India, for the time being, have established themselves as a force to reckon with. More so since the World Cup will be played in their own backyard. And India strengthened their position with notable gains from the series.
From white-washing Sri Lanka in ODIs earlier this month to clean-sweeping the #BlackCaps similarly, this has been an absolute cracker of a start to 2023. Congratulations #TeamIndia on becoming the No. 1 ICC Men’s ODI Team! @BCCI #INDvNZ pic.twitter.com/ykihUcdoXJ
— Jay Shah (@JayShah) January 24, 2023
Openers amongst the runs
Shubman Gill has established himself as the first-choice opener in ODIs and while there were debates about Ishan Kishan hitting a double ton, Gill shut the debate with a fantastic double ton in the first ODI.
Gill also won the player of the series award and equalled the record of the highest score in a three-match bilateral ODI series.
Meanwhile, Gill’s partner and India skipper Rohit Sharma ended his century drought with a shower of boundaries in the third ODI.
He also scored well in the first two ODIs and finished as the second-highest run-getter for India and third overall in the series.
Spinners ruling the middle overs
Indian spinners were tactful and were able to dominate the middle overs for the most part of the series. Kuldeep Yadav was the leader of the pack who also finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker in the series with six scalps.
Yuzvendra Chahal only played the last match but displayed good rhythm and bagged two wickets, which could have been more if Ishan Kishan held on to a stumping chance.
However, the spinners were not the most effective in the first ODI in Raipur and might lose the plot in similar conditions.
Rohit will also have to decide the combination he would want to go with especially since Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel will return to the setup.
The biggest improvement India have shown in the recent ODIs is with their fast bowling which has flourished in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah.
While Mohammed Siraj has come to the fore to lead from the front, Mohammed Shami showed in the second ODI what he brings to the table and also won the player of the match award.
Another comprehensive performance from #TeamIndia as they outclass New Zealand by 90 runs in Indore to complete a 3-0 whitewash. 🙌🏽
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 24, 2023
Hardik Pandya has also started to become a lot more reliable with the ball and also took the new ball in the absence of Siraj and Shami in the final ODI.
The fact that India dominated in the third ODI in absence of the two frontline seamers says a lot about their bowling depth. And Bumrah is still to join the team which will make the pace department a formidable bowling attack.
While there were plenty of positives, the think tank will want to work on a few areas of concern as well.
Woeful middle order
While Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma managed to score all the runs throughout the series, the make-shift middle order failed to make a mark in KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer’s absence.
Ishan Kishan scored 30 runs in three innings, whereas Suryakumar Yadav managed 45 runs in two innings.
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Hardik Pandya was the best of the lot and proved his reputation, scoring a well-paced fifty in the third ODI. But even he couldn’t get going in the first two games and the team will want him to be more consistent.
Is death bowling, still a concern?
Indian bowlers were too good at the start and in the middle in the series and didn’t allow the Kiwi batters to play freely at the death, except for in the first ODI.
While India were pushed against the wall in the first match, they somehow managed to escape the onslaught from Michael Bracewell with a few decent overs from pacers at the death. But not before they were hit for plenty.
On Indian tracks which are mostly heavenly for batting, leaking runs at the death might cost fortunes at the World Cup.