New Zealand Cricket
New Zealand were beaten 4-1 by India (AFP Photo)

New Zealand coach Gary Stead has said the India ODI series gave his team a reality check ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019.

India trounced New Zealand 4-1 in a five-match series that after the hosts had bossed Sri Lanka in a preceding ODI series.

The Black Caps bounced back after crushing Bangladesh 3-0 in a three-match series at home where they seemed to have worked upon the areas the world No. 2 India had ‘brutally’ exposed earlier.

While against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, New Zealand consistently posted totals in excess of 300 but failed to cross 250 even once against India. Their opening pair also failed to lay a solid platform.

“India obviously exposed some areas that we wanted to keep brushing up on, and the brutal truth of it is until we play those guys again, we don’t actually [know if we’ve learned] that lesson or not,” Stead told reporters on Thursday. “Without being disrespectful to Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, they weren’t in the same standard of a really top Indian team.”

New Zealand’s ODI season has come to an end and their next such assignment will be at the World Cup. However, they are to play a series of warm-up matches in Brisbane (vs Australia) and then in England in the lead up to the tournament where they will be hoping to test themselves against the top sides.

Stead, though, is happy with how his batters have paced their innings – accumulation in the middle overs, keeping wickets in hands allowing for late fireworks. The new ball bowlers also have caused early damage.

“I think the way we’ve gone about building our innings has been really positive. A lot of this series has come down to us embedding a plan of how we want to play, and the style we want to play. It’s not rocket science – a lot of teams want to have wickets in hand so they can push at the end, and you want to take early wickets with the ball. That’s been particularly pleasing in this last series, as we’ve done that really well in all three games,” he said.

However, the 2015 World Cup runners-up have been guilty of loosening their grip after dominating the proceedings early on. Thrice they allowed Bangladesh to give their final total some semblance of respect. In Napier, the tourists were 137/6 from which they went on to score 232- all out, in Christchruch, they scored 226- all out from being 93/5 at one stage. Then in the series finale, they were 61/5, from where they scored 242- all out.

“I think that’s just an attitudinal thing – sometimes when you take early wickets is easy to let the game drift just a wee bit, and that just comes back to personal pride and attitude. If we want to challenge the very top teams, I think we need to be better at that,” Stead said.