Rohit Sharma’s Indian cricket team ended the ODI series Down Under on the ultimate high. After winning a bilateral ODI series for the first time in Australia, India ended their 10-year pain in New Zealand on the ultimate high by winning the final ODI in Wellington by 35 runs to clinch the five-match series 4-1. Rohit, who took over as the captain for the Hamilton ODI after Virat Kohli was rested, started his tenure with a disastrous loss as the team was bowled out for 92. In Wellington, the team started off poorly but were rescued by fine knocks from Ambati Rayudu (90) and a 22-ball blitz from Hardik Pandya to boost India.
Speaking after the end of the match, Rohit said the plan to bat first on a difficult wicket was made keeping in mind the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup which will be played in England. “I had a look (of the pitch) before the toss and knew that there was moisture, which would be helpful for the fast bowlers initially. As a team we wanted to see how we face the challenges because come the World Cup we will be put into those situations,” Rohit said.
Trent Boult and Matt Henry picked up two wickets at the start, with Henry accounting for Rohit (2) and Shubman Gill (7) while Boult sent back Shikhar Dhawan (6) and MS Dhoni for 1. Rohit acknowledged that batsmen have to back themselves while facing the new ball in swinging conditions.
“We lost four wickets upfront, there is a learning there for us as how we should bat when the ball is swinging and conditions are not easy. The guys now know come the situation how to do it. The run rate was not great in first 30 overs but we still managed to get to 250, which is a big positive,” Rohit said.
India won a series in New Zealand after 10 years and their 4-1 scoreline is the best in the country ever since they started touring New Zealand in 1967. Rohit said the achievement was massive.
“New Zealand have got great balance. They bat deep and have a quality bowling line-up, we saw a bit of glimpse of that in last game where they challenged us, so for us 4-1 is a great achievement,” Rohit said.
The Indian skipper also hailed Rayudu’s contribution and said the knock would boost his confidence and if he played in a similar vein in tough conditions, India’s chances will receive a major boost. Rohit, though, stressed on the need to try out some combinations as India look to cover all bases for the tournament.
“We want to be very well prepared for the World Cup, so we wanted to try out all our combinations. If the series was on line, we would have played with two spinners and three seamers and Kedar being there, but with the series won, we wanted to try out combination. Because we will be playing nine games in World Cup, and anything can happen, injuries, being out of form, so we wanted to try our every combination,” Rohit said.
India will now be aiming to break their jinx in Twenty20 Internationals, having never won a game in New Zealand. The first match will take place in Wellington on Wednesday.