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New Zealand ended their India tour with a record defeat IANS

Across sports, one of the strongest points that are associated with champion sides is that they are spoilt for choices. At times, it can be the case of too many cooks spoiling the broth but if the controllable are attended with efficiency; teams tend to achieve favourable results on a consistent basis. In the history of cricket, West Indies and Australia, who dominated for decades showed how much the bench strength plays a crucial role. The same can be said about this current Indian side, which, perhaps for the first time, is ensuring that their achievements in Test cricket are being carried over into the shorter formats. Full Cricket Scorecard, India vs New Zealand, 5th ODI

On Saturday, a country in a festive mood was given a gift by the Indian cricket team, which routed New Zealand by 190 runs their biggest win in ODIs versus the Kiwis and clinched the series 3-2. While New Zealand deserve rich praise for challenging India in the ODIs following a 0-3 thrashing which they received in the Test series, it was disappointing to see the way Kiwis went about a tricky chase on a challenging pitch against bowlers against whom they have had enough experience of playing.

Amit Mishra, who lead the demolition of the Kiwis at Visakhapatnam was playing his fifth game in the series, but New Zealand batted against the Indian leg-spinner as if they were playing him for the very first time. Throughout their tour, New Zealand remained a clueless unit as far as their batting was concerned, and fifth ODI emphasised that their problems remained exactly where it all started.

Kane Williamson might have highlighted the performances of Tom Latham and Mitchell Santner as a few takeaways from the tour, there is no hiding for the likes of Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor. The two experienced New Zealand players remained poor throughout, even their sporadic performances could not prevent them for being termed as passengers in this side which Williamson has been entrusted to take ahead from where Brendon McCullum left.

New Zealand strayed from their basic idea of playing cricket, which is of giving their best and at the same time, behave as true gentlemen. They are never as brash as the other top sides in international cricket in behaviour, and still remain one of the best sides to play against. The Indian team is going to face noisy sides like England and Australia on their road ahead in this India Cricket season, and are certainly going to miss the gentlemen from New Zealand, who unfortunately went down without putting up a fight in the final ODI. Even Indians would be feeling disappointed at this moment.

The defeat in the final ODI will pose questions which New Zealand were able to prevent throughout their stay in India. In the Tests, they did not suffer batting collapses as frequently as the South Africans did, as someone or the other from the New Zealand team kept coming up with inspired performances. When the ODIs arrived, New Zealand did start on a poor note at Dharamsala on a decent wicket, but they bounced back in the next game to stun the hosts by 6 runs.

In the two games which New Zealand won, they continued to fail with the bat as a unit but still managed to win games on the back of impressive bowling and fielding. Santner emerged as a gritty player in the Tests, who went on to strangulate the Indian batsmen with some tight bowling in the ODIs. Tim Southee, in retrospect, was sorely missed in the first leg of the tour as no other New Zealand seamer posed as many challenges as he did in the ODIs. Southee displayed tremendous control over the white ball, swinging it as per wish, and varied his pace, which was another proof of the right-arm bowler being one of the best in business at the moment.

Southee s off-cutters and the slow bouncers which the Indians could not read even till the fifth ODI is something which New Zealand will take ahead. Southee s presence in the bowling attack also spurred the others Trent Boult and Matt Henry to do better and this is another positive for the New Zealand team. But there are a few questions which New Zealand will have some tough time finding answers so.

The performances of Guptill and Taylor cannot be brushed under the carpet saying even the others fail in the subcontinent. South Africa were hammered throughout their four Tests, but they did produce an impactful performance at Delhi on one day, which is still mentioned whenever the Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015-16 is mentioned. The blockathon left a blueprint for those to arrive in India next, but New Zealand could never find its copy. Till the fifth ODI, Taylor was clueless whether the ball will straighten up or turn. Guptill cannot be blamed for batting poorly against spin, in most of the ODIs, he did not even last till the spinners were deployed by India. Guptill s identical dismissals to Umesh Yadav will remain with the batsman for long, since it was a pacer who extended his miserable run.

Spare a thought for Williamson, Latham and Santner, who did not deserve to be on the losing end. Williamson will feel the heat and disappointment for time to come, since his side performed badly on two consecutive series, against South Africa and India. Latham made as many runs as he could, and Santner could not have improved anymore than he did during the time that he spent in India.

New Zealand s win at Mohali in the second ODI was their first in India since 2003, and going into the final ODI, they had a rare opportunity of clinching a series win in the subcontinental country for the first time ever. But looking back at how meekly New Zealand surrendered in the final ODI, one can only feel that it was a disappointing end to a series in which the Kiwis could perhaps have done better.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)