The second ODI between Aotearoa's Blackcaps and India wasn't quite a repeat of the hiding dished out by India in the first fixture, although the kiwis were dismantled in classy fashion by the tourists. After doing the damage with the ball first up a few days ago, snatching the game away from the Blackcaps, India did the same with the bat this time around in scoring 324/4 with very little opportunities for Aotearoa to have any say in the matter.
As we saw against Sri Lanka, any time you bat first and score 300+, things get a bit funky in the chase and the Blackcaps ability to up the ante under pressure was exposed. All out for 234 with some dismissals via rather agricultural batting wasn't flash, which when combined with some ratty luck for Kane Williamson and more brilliance of the purest form from MS Dhoni to dismiss Ross Taylor, led to being generally out-classed in all aspects.
My best/most interesting performers were Ish Sodhi and Doug Bracewell, both of whom took their opportunities in the spotlight. Sodhi came in for Mitchell Santner and was the only kiwi bowler to concede less that 5.50rpo (4.30rpo), showing control through his variations and in different circumstance if India had to be even more aggressive vs Sodhi, he could have picked up wickets. With runs flowing elsewhere, India's batsmen didn't need to take Sodhi on and this lack of pressure in the bowling group was a bummer ... again.
Bracewell was alright with the ball and like Sodhi he didn't take a wicket, but conceded 5.90rpo and then came in to showcase his batting ability in whacking 57 off 46. With Jimmy Neesham out of action via injury, Bracewell has enjoyed his chance to operate as the main all-rounder the Neesham/Bracewell situation resembles the Sodhi/Santner situation which intrigues me.
The fact that Sodhi and Santner have replaced each other, makes me sad. I've written a fair bit about these two playing in the same 11 and the lack of creativity in team selection from kiwis in playing two spinners on Aotearoa soil, is boring. I'd also be open to playing Bracewell and Neesham in the same team, should the opportunity arise; bro, I'd be keen to see Bracewell, Neesham, Sodhi and Santner in the same team.
Much like my yarn from the first ODI, these are freestyle thoughts coming at ya hard and fast. Such ideas about weird combinations stem from the Blackcaps getting smoked in two ODI's, in two different ways and kinda looking a bit mundane. The context around these ODI's also feels important in this regard as I'm not overly downbuzz about losing these games, nor do I feel some way about how they have loss because we're learning.
We are finally seeing the Blackcaps under immense pressure and until now, it's been difficult to really get into the nitty gritty because everything has be fluffy. Shit has got real, real fast and I wouldn't say it's cool, but the process of learning about this Blackcaps group is interesting.
Colin de Grandhomme did himself no favours and out resident CDG hater on Facebook will be chuffed.
India's spinners have accounted for 12 of 20 wickets, in Aotearoa. The Blackcaps have only operated with one spinner in either game, both of whom have conceded less than 5rpo in their respective outings.
Don't go hundies on the top-order failures. These failures do set the Blackcaps up to struggle, but this feels more like a lean patch for Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Williamson ain't even in a lean patch and if those three can't score runs, Colin Munro isn't going to.
What I like here, is that it puts the middle order under pressure to perform because at some stage in the World Cup, they will be required to salvage and then dominate an innings. Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls have played both games, with Latham scoring 45 runs and Nicholls 40 in their 2inns.
I'm going to chuck this out there as well; I'm not catching a vibe from Latham.
Overall, it's super difficult to compare guys who impressed vs Sri Lanka to guys who aren't performing vs India. With Tim Seifert though, there was a palpable vibrancy to his work behind the stumps and he offered energy, even without scoring too many runs. Latham, by nature doesn't offer that same energy and kinda contributes to the general mundane nature of this Blackcaps group.
My eagerness for the third ODI isn't so much rooted in seeing the Blackcaps play well, more so in what team takes the field and how coach Gaz deals with this situation. I'm open to all the different combinations and selection moves that can be made, because we're in this period of sussing everything out. The Blackcaps are also under the pump and that amplifies the funk.
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Peace and love 27.