India need to iron out some rough edges
New Zealand Cricket used two broad themes to market India's tour.
The first — “The Rockstars are coming” worked perfectly with the second - “This is cricket, anything can happen.” For the NZC, India’s tour was of huge significance with telecast rights being sold for NZ$ 25 million. For the New Zealand team, the tour was critical for it gave them a chance to consolidate recent gains and show that the Australia experience wasn’t one-off.
Indian fans will be disappointed at the 0-2 result in the Twenty20 series, but the captain and the coach will not mind it too much. Every team has to lose at some stage and it’s better that it came now, ahead of June’s T20 World Cup in England. India are the world champs in this format, but as a disciplined and peppy New Zealand team showed, there are sections of the game that warrant closer examination.
The first major concern will be the lack of pace bowling firepower. In the second match the injury to Ishant Sharma showed just how lucky Irfan Pathan is to be making the cut. The Baroda left-armer insists that he is not an all-rounder and that his primary role is with the ball in hand, but if it were not for his handy batting he would have been left behind some time ago. He bowled creditably in parts on Friday, but in Twenty20 cricket even one bad over is enough to tilt the balance of the game.
The second issue that Kirsten will spend some time on is the challenge of bringing some sort of batting consistency to a format that rewards fearlessness and shows scant respect for restraint. If you look at the format as one of 120 balls (rather than 20 overs) then the need for at least one meaty partnership becomes apparent.
Someone, perhaps Raina, will have to be assigned the designated role of holding the innings together and controlling the tempo. Mahendra Singh Dhoni performs the role admirably in ODIs, but for some reason seems reluctant to back himself to bat up the order and do the same in Twenty20 cricket.
In some ways Ravindra Jadeja was fortunate to get a game but the manner in which he used it shows just how streetsmart a cricketer he is. His left-arm spin was measured and restrictive, and when he had the bat in hand he surprised the Kiwis by clearing the ropes with ease. Add his electric fielding to the mix and you have something close to the complete package for limited overs cricket.
If nothing, he has been the revelation from these two matches and you can be sure you'll be hearing more about him. Shane Warne gave Jadeja the nickname "Rockstar" when they were team-mates at the IPL and he'll be chuckling away to himself at how apt NZC's marketing campaign was. The Rockstar has indeed arrived.