Kashmir Indepth
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India whitewash New Zealand: The need to be realistic in a fresh start

There were no raucous celebrations after India's win on Sunday.

New Delhi, Nov 22 After India’s defeat to New Zealand in the T20 World Cup, there were rumblings about the country which hosts the most prestigious and high profile T20 league having ironically fallen behind most top teams in the format. While the toss was not kind to the 2007 T20 World Cup champions – India lost the toss against New Zealand and in their opening defeat to Pakistan – their batting and a rather uncharacteristically loose fielding effort made it look like they were gasping for air against the two opponents in their group who were expected to pose a challenge.

In both matches, India’s opening combinations failed to fire. While captain Virat Kohli scored 57 against Pakistan at No.3, it came off 49 balls and he was dismissed just as he was looking to accelerate in the last four overs of the innings. Their middle order was sluggish and when it came to bowling, India could not handle the conditions and both their opponents strolled to victory.

Less than a month after that defeat to New Zealand, an Indian team missing most of their regular stars has done a 3-0 sweep on the Kiwis. However, just a cursory look at the schedules of both teams and their rosters shows that this does not reflect a miraculous turnaround for India. Members of the Indian camp themselves seemed to be under no illusions, with Rahul Dravid putting on a sober tone despite this being his first win as India’s full-time head coach.

“It’s nice to start well, but we are realistic and we need to keep our feet on the ground. It’s not easy for New Zealand to show up after a World Cup final and play three games in six days. We have to keep our feet on the ground and learn some things on the way forward,” said head coach Rahul Dravid said after the match.

Fan sentiments also seem to align with what Dravid said. When Kiwi all-rounder Mitchell McClenaghan said in a tweet that New Zealand lost a “meaningless series 72 hours after a WC final defeat” after the second T20I, most twitter handles with Indian names and profile pictures of Indian stars seemed to agree with him in the replies.

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