India vs New Zealand | Takeaways: Mohhamed Shami’s reinvention and India altering history against Tom Latham

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India vs New Zealand | Takeaways: Mohhamed Shami’s reinvention and India altering history against Tom Latham

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Bastab K Parida

01/28/2019

India beat New Zealand comprehensively by seven wickets to seal the series 3-0 in advance and found out a lot of holes in the hosts’ heart, with the World Cup being months away. During the dominant win, India also found out solutions to some of their quandaries and will really be happy about it.

Mohammed Shami’s place is booked for the World Cup now

Mohammed Shami has always been a wicket-taking bowler in limited-overs cricket and the only problem that goes against his selection is his high economy rate and the propensity to release the pressure through that. However, after his comeback in the Australia series, Shami has been a force to be reckoned with and made sure that he will be the third seamer in the team for the World Cup.

He kept threatening the stumps consistently, and in the process, he caused a lot of problems for the Kiwi opening duo of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro who were trying the on-the-up techniques to counter the bounce. After a flashy adaptation in the second ODI, Munro was trying to defend a lot today to set his eyes in. His seam position was upright from the very first over and by landing the ball behind the half-volley, he brought the batsman forward. On a surface, which was more on the slower side, he showed an immaculate amount of patience to bring that odd mistake to the fore. 

The hosts lost their last seven wickets for a minuscule 65 runs to set India a target of 244 runs. Their only hope was also negated due to the slow nature of the pitch, which prompted India's quicks to keep hitting the hard length to good effect. As the innings ended, Shami had already secured three wickets, giving India a happy headache once Jasprit Bumrah is back to the team for the home series.

India remembered history and altered it swiftly

If there was one team who gave India a stern challenge in the sub-continent has to be New Zealand and much of their success was down to the fact that Tom Latham scored consistently over those two series. His innings in Mumbai in 2017 was one of the finest played by an overseas player in India as he swept the Indian wrist-spinners with elan. His batting was pretty much reminiscent of Matthew Hayden and Andy Flower’s batting against India.

However, now, it is safe to say that India had remembered the history quite vividly and were committed not to repeat the same mistake today, even after Latham was well set in the middle. From the past experiences, it has been well demonstrated that the Kiwi keeper didn't target the long-off region and was good on his legs. The Indian bowlers prepared a plan and executed it well as they bowled only a couple of balls within the stumps and constantly had both fine-leg and square-leg inside the circle. 

The line and the strict field placement meant the option of getting a single from outside off was cut off entirely, going aerial was the only option left for Latham. In addition to that, even after Latham was well set, India had six men inside the circle that included a fielder at mid-off instead of long-off. The outside-off line forced Latham to walk across all the time and that's where the change of angle from Yuzvendra Chahal worked. It was a classic case of planning and one has to give Virat Kohli the due for this.

Indian middle-order in good health now

In the build-up to the India-New Zealand series when everyone was debating the ideal composition of the Indian team, the effect of possible early-summer conditions in Kiwiland dominated the conversation. The picture being painted was one of grassy, even damp pitches, the ball was expected to swing and seam a great deal, and, with good reason, there was concern over India's middle-order batting being exposed in front of the left-arm swing of Trent Boult. However, the first three matches put every speculation to rest.

When Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik came to the crease, it was a pretty comfortable position to be in, but it still needed maturity and level-headedness to get the team down the line. Considering the duo had been fragile before, they needed to ensure that they didn’t lose the wicket and didn’t look too scratchy in the middle. With New Zealand operating with a 6-3 field, it became all too easy for the duo to guide the balls on the onside comfortably. 

New Zealand failed to contain them majorly because they depended too much on the pitch to give them help and instead of keeping the ball a bit on the good length to force them for the mini pull shots, they bowled half-trackers regularly which worked against them from the word go. On the other hand, India became all but sure that Rayudu is fit for the World Cup and the position shouldn’t be tinkered with, come the World Cup.

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