The exciting Indian cricket tour of New Zealand ended on a muted note for the visitors, as the Blackcaps snatched a close victory in the third and final T20 international in Hamilton, and thereby claiming the series 2-1.
There is always an added buzz with tours involving Indians.
Title sponsors ANZ certainly did their part this season in ensuring that the tour involved extensive public outreach and engagement using multiple marketing channels.
Credit goes to ANZ for creating hype in a country where Rugby gets all the attention.
ODI as predicted
The One Day International (ODI) series went as predicted.
Barring a bizarre surrender at Hamilton’s Seddon Park in the fourth ODI, the Indians completely dominated the series.
The one-off loss was a wake-up call for stand-in Captain Rohit Sharma who admitted to being “humiliated,” before taking the field in the fifth and final ODI, which his troops won, claiming the series 4-1. New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson admitted that they were up against a brilliant side.
T20 format different
At that point, Williamson was also right in that the T20 format presented a different opportunity and approach. In this shortest format of the game, the teams take greater risks and as a result get varied success and a lower chance of meeting predictions.
All three games of the series were entertaining, drawing the largest crowds at each of the venues where the matches were played.
Wellington for Blackcaps
The series kicked off in windy Wellington where Williamson’s men notched up a convincing 80 run victory, courtesy of Wicketkeeper Tim Siefert’s valiant 84 runs of 43 deliveries.
Sharma’s eleven squared the series at Eden Park. Krunall Pandya restricted New Zealand batsmen with clever bowling, before the Indian top order did their job with the bat and level the series.
The final game in Hamilton was a nail biter, where fast bowler Tim Southee held his nerve in final over, to ensure the blackcaps closed the series with a 4 run victory, and thereby claiming a 2-1 series victory.
The atmosphere in each match was electric. In particular, the response former captain MS Dhoni received when walking onto the field at Eden park could fool anyone into thinking the match was being played in India.
All in all, it was an exciting month of Cricket, and Kohli’s men will be back in twelve months to provide more entertainment.
On a gloomy note, it is understood the star-studded Indian team seemed a tad too precious of their celebrity status by not interacting with guests at a grand function arranged for them by ANZ. In contrast, the Women’s team, along with their New Zealand counterparts, as well as the Blackcaps mixed and mingled with ease.
Several guests complained of the boys in blue largely keeping to themselves, killing the excitement of the large audience who had their hopes high of some level of direct interaction.
NZ Cricket silent on charges
The series also drew attention to a serious social matter.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has not publicly taken a stand on sexual consent in relation to fast bowler Scott Kuggeleijn, whom they silently introduced into the international arena in this series.
In 2017, Kuggeleijn was found not guilty of rape. This was at a retrial, after the initial 2016 trial resulted in a hung jury.
What has irked the public is the pejorative conduct of Kuggeleijn and NZC’s failure to publicly address it.
Understandably, spectators were seen holding signs which targeted NZC for their inaction in an era where the #metoo movement has brought sexual abuse to light.
Kuggeleijn’s own account of the case is a shameful read, and based on his statements, both he and NZC have more to account for in spite of the not guilty verdict.
His behaviour on sexual violence makes former Blackcap Jesse Ryder’s issues with alcohol look petty.
NZC owes the public more than its silence.
Ravi Nyayapati is our Sports Correspondent.
Pictures by Hemant Parikh