Question: what is more frustrating as a fan than having to wake up early in the morning to watch a (rather meaningless) tour that’s been crammed in just days after the conclusion of an intense T20 World Cup?
Answer: Seeing that tour get all but fully disrupted by rain.
Now you’re up in the morning contemplating the decisions you’re taking in life because, well, here you are at 7:15 AM on a Sunday, watching highlights of another rain interrupted game on Amazon Prime because the game you woke up to watch has been brought to a halt by rain.
India and New Zealand were supposed to lock horns in six white-ball internationals but with 83% of the tour done, here we are. A grand total of two games have been completed. Two-and-a-half if you consider that ‘tie’ in Napier to be an international. And there’s a good chance it could stay this way, for the forecast for Wednesday is not great: there’s a 60% chance of rain in Christchurch.
From an Indian perspective, rain ruining the T20I series was a bummer as it meant they couldn’t experiment as much as they’d have liked.
Still, it was okay because T20Is have anyway taken a back-step. The next T20 World Cup is two years away; T20Is getting ‘wasted’ is hence not a big cause for concern.
What’s not ideal, though, is ODIs going for a toss. For the 50-over World Cup is less than a year away and while India’s core is pretty much set, there are multiple spots that are still up for grabs.
One game getting wiped out might principally not look like a big deal but the reality is that it is.
It’s a big deal for Dhawan. The 36-year-old might be captaining the side in the absence of Rohit and Rahul, but it is no secret that his spot is not secure. Heading into Sunday, Dhawan would have been eager to back up the brisk 72 he scored in the first ODI with yet another big score, but circumstances - rain reducing the game to a 29-over affair - forced him to effectively sacrifice his wicket.
As a result, he’s not only missed one golden opportunity, his stats have also taken a hit. Under the match circumstances, Dhawan slogging was the need of the hour, but the 3 (10) he scored today will be used as a stick to beat him months down the line, should his spot in the XI come under the scanner.
It’s a bigger deal for Shubman Gill, who is trying to replace Dhawan as India’s first-choice opener for the World Cup. Gill was out-performed by his partner — who is also the incumbent — in the first ODI and so the 23-year-old simply had to respond. Not least because he only had two more ODIs to make a statement due to being left out of the squad to face Bangladesh.
Gill looked like he was on course to make a statement — racing to 45* off 42, looking assured as ever — but the weather gods stopped him from doing the same.
Thanks to the above, Gill is still exactly where he was at the end of the first ODI. For the youngster, it could have been so much different.
What about Suryakumar Yadav? SKY might be the best T20 batter in the world, but thus far, it’s just not happened for him in 50-over cricket. After the failure in the first ODI — which was his 7th straight innings under 30 in the format — he needed to vindicate the management’s faith in him by responding emphatically. He needed to make every opportunity count because he was, after all, keeping out a player who was averaging 66.00 in the format.
Sunday could have been the start of something special but it wasn’t to be. Like Gill, it’s not just back to square one for Suryakumar now, he too effectively has just one more match (immediately) to showcase his worth, due to not being part of the Bangladesh ODIs.
Yuzvendra Chahal, who’s been under the pump of late, needed to respond too after a disappointing showing in Auckland. Two solid showings would have done a world of good to his claim to be in the XI, but now he has just one more game to bounce back. Potentially none, should the weather gods show no mercy on Wednesday.
It’s also a missed opportunity, albeit in a different way, for Umran Malik. Three full matches in a low-stake series against a quality batting line-up is a dream for every rookie bowler. He’s now not going to get that. Who knows if an opportunity like this will arise again?
Like New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson put it after the game, the weather has unfortunately been following both these sides. And it’s disappointing, indeed.
Ahead of the series, the Indian management would have hoped to get at least some partial answers but thus far, they’ve got none. There is a good chance that it might continue to stay this way at the end of the third game, regardless of whether we get a contest or not.