EXPLANATION: Poor returns from a number of hill fronts for the Black Caps destined for a 3-0 series defeat in India.
Injuries have seriously affected the depth of the ball, New Zealand could envy the four Rams, who look sure to make a feature in the World Cup this year for all their non-substantial contributions.
But Finn Allen, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell and Glenn Phillips all made disappointing returns as they flourished in India’s routine openers. Nine months out from the World Cup – to be played in India – there is clearly work to be done with the New Zealand side, which lost the 2019 final in a bitter way.
Here are the key questions for the Black Caps’ one-day unit:
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Sending ODI skipper Kane Williamson and captain Tim Southee home for the Tests after the tour of Pakistan made excellent sense, except for the disappointing performance in the series.
Two tons of white-ball experience in India and a two-Test series at home against England next month is a big drawcard in the Black Caps’ summer calendar.
But not having Trent Boult (unavailable), Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi and Adam Milne (injured) and Kyle Jamieson (recovering from injury) in the live-bowling line-up meant a gaping drop in talent and experience.
Williamson led the way with the bat in Pakistan and was the glue to the batting order – without him India collapsed.
As we touched on above, depth – or more precisely, the lack of it. Army coped comfortably without stringing up the top-flight batting options – and Shubman Gill did a 360 at mid-wicket of 180 and struck for 128.57 to put pressure on usual opener KL Rahul.
But New Zealand doesn’t need many door-knockers to find a place. Without the aforementioned seam and swing ball sextet, Blair Tickner, Henry Shipley and Jacob Duffy were given the opportunity to impress, although the conditions were generally unfair, especially when they bowled two in the Raipur game.
But they failed to make any significant impact, and even Henry Nicholls fell down the order with the bat after Daryl Mitchell and Glenn Phillips fell behind Daryl.
Opener Finn Allen made two ducks and yet again showed that he is ready for the World Cup in a crucial position.
While the team triumvirate of Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Michael Bracewell will not be the best slow bowling unit in this year’s World Cup, New Zealand will still be very competitive if the other countries click the game.
Add Southee, Boult and Lockie Ferguson and the bowling should not be a major headache if injuries and unavailability are to be avoided.
Williamson and Devon Conway give solidity and substance to the batting, Phillips adds dynamism and Mitchell should be too good to slump in form for much longer.
It was also “there” that “consistency has been created around the team” who has consistently played in major ICC events for several years; from one outstanding display and avoiding defeat by any offense.
India were already favorites to win the World Cup on home soil before Sri Lanka and New Zealand were swept into rapid success.
Their depth is unique – any media selectors will have time to name their selected Cup squad only on omissions.
The Black Caps first slipped to fourth in ODIs with three defeats; they now also sit behind England (2) and Australia (3).
England showed their white-ball prowess with victory in the Twenty20 World Cup last year and are the only side to come close to India with a depth of legitimate 1 XI options.
In the build-up
There are only eight ODIs before coach Gary Stead and selector Gavin Larsen have to finalize their 15-man selection for the World Cup.
The first three are at home against Sri Lanka at the end of March. While that will be a handy exercise, playing at home against the light is less likely to set the trumpet for many players.
New Zealand will then play five games in Pakistan in April and May – with the team more equipped to prove how they could come to India in October.
The Black Caps will warm up for the tournament with four ODIs – followed by four T20s – in England against the hosts in September.
* The Black Caps complete their India tour with three Twenty20 internationals, the first of which starts at 3am on Saturday (NZT)