India were comprehensively outplayed by New Zealand in a warm up game that should send alarm bells ringing through the blue camp – not for the result but the manner of it.
Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat, mentioning that the team would like to use the warm up games as a chance to play themselves into some adversity to see how they responded.
He got part of his wish when Trent Boult ripped through the Indian top order in double quick time, but the response – as it largely has been in even slightly bowler friendly conditions – was sorely lacking.
In the end, New Zealand cantered to a 6 wicket victory as they chased down India’s paltry 179, leaving the Men in Blue with more questions to answer after the match than they did heading into it.
Here are the talking points emerging from the match.
#1 Rohit Sharma needs to apply himself
Sharma’s approach, as well as one could glean from the limited time he spent at the crease, seemed to advocate discipline outside the off stump in moving conditions. But it was the incoming delivery from Trent Boult that did him as the Mumbaikar was left stone-footed in front of middle stump.
Rohit harbours much of India’s batting responsibility as vital part of a blockbuster top order, but it is his tendency to keep a window open while he attempts to close the door that came back to haunt him again.
He needs to have a water-tight technique and more sound mental application if he is to give India the kind of start it needs in the upcoming matches.
#2 Trent Boult is a special bowler
There was a hint of swing, the ball was nipping about. But Trent Boult extracted every bit of movement he could from the pitch and sent back Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in double quick time.
It was the sign of a master bowler at work, the control and craft that the left arm quick displayed. Like Simon Doull said on commentary, Boult tweaked his action to compensate for the lack of movement on the white ball these past few years.
He’s a thinking cricketer and his dismissal of KL Rahul, especially, brought that to the fore.
#3 Why no Jasprit Bumrah when India needed to break Williamson-Taylor partnership?
Virat Kohli did not bring back India’s best bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who was on song during his first spell, when they were in need of wickets. So why didn’t Bumrah bowl? Was he carrying a niggle Virat Kohli didn’t want to reveal or after going the distance in the IPL, was he just jaded and in need of a rest?
Honestly, India probably have more cause for concern if it’s the latter. Is the cash-strapped league interfering with our international performance in a tournament as important as the World Cup?
#4 Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor the nexus in batting for New Zealand
New Zealand has always been a team comprised of useful cricketers and a unit that’s punched above its weight. But in fairness, not acknowledging that Kane Williamson is world class and Ross Taylor is one of the cannier batsmen in the world would be nothing short of folly.
Much of the Kiwis’ success in the tournament will depend on how that duo performs and as they displayed today, they’re quite hard to dislodge once they get going.
#5 India have to buck their ideas up
It was just a warm up game and it didn’t really matter on paper. But the Indian performance highlighted a massive need for improvement before the tournament officially kicks off.
India need better application and they need to be more zoned in. One of Virat Kohli’s salient attributes is his intensity and now, more than ever, he needs that to rub off on his teammates.
One can only hope that the exertions of the IPL hasn’t cost India the World Cup before it has even begun.