VVS Laxman believes that Shreyas Iyer, who’s now scored 7 fifties in his last 11 ODIs, has well and truly ended the discussion for the much-debated No.4 slot. Laxman further heaped praise on the Iyer-Rahul duo, but was critical on India’s bowling and fielding, which he believes let the team down.
On the back of the 5-0 thumping in the T20Is, the Men in Blue were expected to steamroll the Kiwis in the ODIs, but the Virat Kohli-led team were given a taste of their own medicine by hosts New Zealand, who outclassed India in all three departments to win the series 3-0. But in a series where positives where few and far between, there two shining lights for team India in the form of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, the pair of who were a cut above the rest in a series where the visitors were whitewashed.
Former India cricketer VVS Laxman believes that Iyer, who registered two fifties and a century in the three matches, has well and truly sealed the No.4 spot. Laxman also lavished praise on Rahul, but attested that India’s batting lacks penetration beyond the aforementioned two batsmen.
"The batting was shored up resourcefully by Shreyas Iyer, who has ended the discussion on the No. 4 slot, and KL Rahul, who once again showcased his versatility, but the lack of penetration was exposed by New Zealand in general, and their openers in particular," Laxman wrote in his column for Times of India.
The 45-year-old also noted that it was Yuzvendra Chahal, who ended the series with 6 wickets to his name in 2 matches, who was India’s best-bowler and believes that the leggie flighting the ball made a huge difference.
“Yuzvendra Chahal, easily India's best bowler, tried to make a fist of it alongside Ravindra Jadeja, who had another fine outing with the ball. Chahal was dangerous whenever he flighted the ball and allowed it to grip and turn.”
Laxman also then went on to criticize the Indian fielding, that was once again off-colour, and asserted that team let themselves down with their abject fielding.
“Like it has been all series, India's fielding was less than impressive. Especially when the wickets are not coming, top-class fielding can act as an additional bowler. India will feel they let themselves down in the field.”
India’s rookie opening stand of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal, after stringing a fifty-run stand in the first game, fell steeply towards the end, only adding 21 and 8 for the first-wicket, thus, in turn, handing the early initiative to the Kiwis. Laxman opined that the duo’s batting ‘left a lot to be desired’ and added that India only go to a par score due to the ever-growing maturity of Rahul and Iyer. Laxman further attested that the team’s lack of firepower was exposed after Rahul’s dismissal, and stated that the Men in Blue were 25 runs short of a good score on a flat Bay Oval wicket.
"Their early batting too left a lot to be desired. The start of any innings, be it with bat or ball, sets the tone for what is to follow. Apart from their half-century stand in the first ODI, openers Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw haven't strung together a partnership. When three wickets fall in the first quarter of the innings, including that of the best batsman in the side, if not the world, it's never easy to recover and post a substantial total.
“That India managed to do so was thanks to the growing maturity and influence in the middle order of Shreyas and Rahul, both capable of playing at more than one gear, both situationally aware, and both adept at the waiting and the power game. Pandey added a new dimension with his smartness in running, but the lack of firepower once Rahul and Pandey were dismissed off successive deliveries left India maybe 25 runs short.”
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