“I think that has always been one of India’s problems”

Legendary Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar has pointed to India’s troubles defending big totals in white ball cricket after nearly escaping in the first ODI against New Zealand.

On Wednesday, January 18, India defeated New Zealand by 12 runs at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. The Men in Blue rode from 208 to 349 for 8 in the first innings after Shubman Gill’s sensational serve.

India threw out the Black Caps for 337 in the final over of the game, with local hero Mohammed Siraj (4/46) and Kuldeep Yadav (2/43) starring again with the ball for the hosts.

New Zealand were reduced to 131 for six inside 29 overs while Devon Conway (10), Tom Latham (24) and Glenn Phillips (11) were back in the dressing room. It seemed like India would end the game within moments after that.

A defiant 162-run stand between Michael Bracewell (140) and Mitchell Santner (57) brought the visitors back into play. Bracewell played the pest in a record-breaking partnership for the seventh wicket in New Zealand ODI history.

The southpaw smashed 12 fours and 10 sixes to nearly wrest the game from India’s jaws. Bracewell annihilated the lines and lengths of Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya and Washington Sundar in a powerful masterclass.

Thakur’s Yorker managed to catch the New Zealand all-rounder in the final just as they needed 13 runs from five balls to secure a sensational win.

Gavaskar believes India is struggling to defend totals of ODIs and T20Is while noting that hunting is its forte.

Speaking to Sports Today, Gavaskar stressed that India needs to improve bowling along the line:

“I think that’s always been one of the problems of India. Not being able to defend yourself. India is always good at hunting. If India had a similar situation to hunt 350 then I think the Indians with the depth (the they have) beat would have gotten it.”

He added:

“As we’ve seen, we’ve seen it before in the T20 format as well. India can reach 190-200 but sometimes struggles to defend that total. So bowling is clearly the area that’s been a problem for a while now, you’re finding there’s a little bit more coming out.”

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India will play their second ODI against New Zealand on Saturday 21 January at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Stadium in Raipur.

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