India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni lavished praise on his bowlers for the resounding series-clinching win over New Zealand in the fifth and final ODI here, describing the effort as “one of the best performances by the bowlers”.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra produced a magical spell to claim 5 for 18 as India clinched the five-match ODI series 3-2 with a thumping 190-run victory in the final game.
It was a perfect Diwali gift for the Indian cricket fans as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men carried the demolition job in style as the spinners made Black Caps’ succumbed to their lowest-ever total against India in ODIs.
“It was one of the best performances by the bowlers. This was one game where the spinners bowled with a lot of assistance. Before this when we bowled first, the wicket was always better to bat in the first half. It was an exceptional performance as there was a bit of dew. The pace at which the spinners bowled was perfect,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“Mishra’s beauty is he bowls slow, so as a keeper you have time to recover. And in tandem with Axar (Patel), who bowls flat and quick, it was very good.”
Dhoni also hailed his deputy Virat Kohli for his 76-ball 65-run knock, which according to him set the platform for the 269 for six on a difficult wicket.
“I think Virat (Kohli) was superb with the bat. We got off to a decent start. When Rohit (Sharma) got injured, the message was if you think you can’t carry on, just play your shots. Once he (Kohli) got out, Rohit gave us some momentum. We felt it was a difficult wicket to freely rotate. That’s when we decided to play the big shots. We felt 270 was par-plus but considering the dew factor that was necessary,” he said.
Dhoni said the five-match series provided the Indian team management the perfect platform to test some youngsters.
“Glad that we could rest some key players, with some big Test series coming up. I feel the batsmen down the order like Kedar Jadhav, Axar Patel and Manish Pandey gained a lot of experience.
“It is difficult to get the complete product in international cricket so the new players should be given time to develop,” he said.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson termed their his team’s performance as “terrible”.
“Without a doubt the total was a lot above par. India have played really well throughout the series. It’s very hard to look past today’s performance for us, you expect to put up a good performance whether we win or lose and today we were terrible,” Williamson said.
“We expect a lot more of our batting, and losing 8 for 20 or whatever it is unacceptable. Playing against one of the best sides in the world, there is room to learn. A lot comes on the back of losses, so tough lessons. But it’s important we take them in. The disappointment is very fresh after a performance like this though. The Test series was extremely tough, coming into this one-day series, after heavy defeats, we fought hard in some tricky surfaces. That was a good effort,” said Williamson.
“We pride ourselves on learning game to game, and today we didn’t show that. There were number of individuals who did their reputations good. Someone like Tom Latham with the bat and Mitchell Santner’s all round work,” he added.
Mishra, who was adjudged man-of-the-match as well as man-of-the-series for his tally of 15 wickets at an average of 14.33, credited Dhoni for his stupendous show with the ball.
“It’s great for the team if I perform like this, they’ve supported me during tough phases. At the start, I was a little tense, but Dhoni told me to calm down, bowl at the wickets, and thanks to that, all went well,” he said.
“There was bounce and spin in the pitch, so bowling slowly, bowling normally worked for me. (India coach) Anil Kumble also talked to me about it before the match, to trust my strength, to trust the flighted balls.
“Axar Patel has also been doing well, and if newcomers keep doing well like this, it will be good for India. Very happy with the way I am bowling, hopefully I can continue,” he said.