Cricket: Black Caps need to find winning form, and fast

By David Leggat

There's a real danger of the tour to India completely turning to custard.

Losing the test series 3-0 was a significant disappointment. No one bar the most deluded New Zealand supporter would have contemplated winning the series.

After all New Zealand have only ever won two tests in India, the hosts had won their last four test series at home, and are a formidable unit. Maybe they'd pinch one test victory, or at least a draw or two.

That series result means New Zealand have lost six and drawn one - the rain-ruined match in Durban - of their seven tests against quality opposition this year, Australia, South Africa and India.

Before the Dharamsala belting overnight, there was a feeling New Zealand would be competitive through the five-game ODI series.

New Zealand play this form pretty capably and are ranked third, one spot, and one point, ahead of India.

You wouldn't have thought so on the opening effort. It has raised the thought that this tour could be in meltdown if the players don't quickly find a way to regain their effectiveness in the short game.

The batting effort last night was desperately poor, with the notable exception of Tom Latham and, in a different way, Tim Southee.

But by the time the pair came together for their 71-run stand for the ninth wicket, the die was cast.

From 65 for seven, there was no way out. And it needs to be said, the pitch was fine for batting as Latham proved.

The batting was simply lame. Some batsmen seemed to work on the basis that going hard from the start was the only way to approach the match.

It may have been Brendon McCullum's way, but there's more than one strategy to play winning ODI cricket.

The Indian bowling was good, seamers Umesh Yadav and debutant Hardik Pandya in particular. They were demanding, both bowling in excess of 140kph, and New Zealand had no answer.

Ross Taylor is woefully out of touch. Any batsman can get a fine ball first up, as Taylor did, but that's now four ducks in his last eight international innings.

Kane Williamson slapped hard at his ninth ball and speared a catch straight to third man, and depending on your perspective it was either an ill-advised shot, which could have flown anywhere within a wide arc on the offside, or unlucky.

But batsmen No 5 through 8 had no excuses. Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Jimmy Neesham and Mitch Santner all found ways to get out far too softly. Four for 22 in 8.l1 overs, led to 65 for seven, thank you and good night.

All out for 190 in the 44th over meant 37 balls were left on the table, and India were not about to waste the chance to keep their foot on New Zealand's throat.

Latham showed runs were on offer and his was a fine, measured innings. He had no need to regret his scoring rate as he seemed to do after the match. At least he put his head down and strove to keep the innings afloat.

Southee swung hard and well for his first half century in his 100th ODI.

But that's now five successive defeats, taking in the second test in South Africa.

New Zealand need to resurrect things, and sharpish, if they're not to start their home season next month with a significant loss of public goodwill. It's a far cry from the start of this year.

- NZ Herald

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