The India tour was always going to be a tough one for the Kiwis. History also suggested so. And, the results reflected their struggles. While they struggled in the Tests, they were more competitive in the one-day format, on expected lines. The 3-0 and 3-2 scorelines suggest the same. Unlike in the past, New Zealand went in with a much-less experienced squad this time round. As such, their task was going to be doubly difficult. But, an India tour often provides opportunities for unknown names to rise from obscurity. Unfortunately for New Zealand, there wasn’t much to savour on that front.
One of the major reasons for New Zealand’s overall failure on the tour was that their senior men did not put their hands up and deliver. On such a tough sojourn, you need your hardened men to rise to the occasion. That was far from the case though. Ross Taylor, of all men, was the biggest disappointment. Coming to India on the back of immense experience, and the IPL experience as well, Taylor failed to register a single fifty on the tour. And, to be honest, the manner in which he struggled against spinners, it suggested he would never get one.
Martin Guptill was another big let-down for the Kiwis. To be honest, he has struggled in Tests for a while now, and it is rather surprising that he continues to retain his place in the longer version of the game. Perhaps, the lack of options is proving to be lucky for Guptill. Worryingly though, he had a poor one-day series as well. He got a 72 in the Ranchi ODI that the Kiwis won, and was even the man of the match. But, before that and after that, there was precious little he had to offer to the team.
In a sense, skipper Kane Williamson should also take some flak for the defeat. Yes, he was unfit for one of the Tests, but in the other matches that he played, he was not always among the runs. His dismissals in the Test matches were particularly disappointing. Williamson was expected to stand up to the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. But, he ended up more like a sitting duck. Williamson performed better in the ODIs, and even came up with a match-winning hundred. But, with the others not providing much support, his efforts did not yield much fruit.
Among the few gains for the Kiwis from a rough tour was the performance of all-rounder Mitchell Santner. He began the tour on a high, coming up with good performances with both bat and ball, and continued to chip in with reasonable efforts as the series progressed. He would definitely have learnt a lot of lessons in India, which should stand him in good stead for future matches. Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Trent Boult starred in phases, but lacked the consistency needed while spinner Ish Sodhi had a disappointingly poor tour overall.
--By A Cricket Analyst