CANBERRA: Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma warned against complacency ahead of India’s World Cup fight Thursday after a resurgent New Zealand inflicted one of his side’s heaviest ever one-day defeats.
The New Zealanders cruised to an eight-wicket win in the fourth ODI in Hamilton as the dominant form that swept India to a 3-0 series victory disappeared.
The tourists were skittled for 92 with 19.1 overs to spare — their lowest total in nine years — before the Black Caps chased down the modest total to triumph at 93 for two in 14.4 overs.
No opponent has ever defeated India with so many balls remaining in their innings and India has only scored as badly on six other occasions.
With the series already won, captain Virat Kohli sat out the dead-rubber fixture and MS Dhoni was sidelined with a hamstring strain.
Sharma took the skipper’s armband for what was supposed to be a celebration of his 200th ODI but Black Caps’ paceman Trent Boult crashed the party to take five for 21.
While Boult and the rest of the New Zealand attack benefitted from humid conditions that allowed them to produce swing for the first time in the series, Sharma said that was no excuse.
“We never expected something like this but sometimes these games can happen,” he said.
Sharma said the pitch remained “a great wicket to bat on” but his batsman had failed to apply themselves because they had already won the series.
He warned such an attitude could cost the second-ranked ODI team dearly at the World Cup starting in England in May.
“Just because we’ve won the series doesn’t mean we can relax,” he said. “We’ve got this big prize ahead of us and we’ve got to keep ticking the boxes. The good teams do that.
“At times you need to grind it out and absorb the pressure but we failed to do that today and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”
SRI LANKA LOOK TO SHRUG OFF INJURIES, OFF-FIELD DRAMAS
Sri Lanka were working to shrug off a series of injuries and off-field dramas, captain Dinesh Chandimal said Thursday, as they look to avoid a series defeat against Australia.
The visitors have endured a turbulent tour so far, losing the first Test at Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs inside three days.
They now must play the second and last Test in Canberra from Friday without pace duo Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera, who have both returned home with injuries.
With fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep and all-rounder Angelo Mathews ruled out before the series started, they face a struggle on a Manuka Oval pitch regarded as one of the best batting decks in the country.
Replacements for Kumara and Chameera have arrived in the form of left-armer Vishwa Fernando and uncapped bowling allrounder Chamika Karunaratne.
“We have to play positive and we need four bowlers to win a game,” Chandimal told reporters, while holding off naming his team until the toss on Friday.
“We have to take more responsibility as a team. We have to score 300 runs batting first if we were to win a Test match.
“This Test match I hope all the players will focus on what is required.”
Keeping the focus on the match may not be easy, given the off-field disruptions.
Apart from an ongoing corruption investigation into Sri Lankan cricket by the International Cricket Council, coach Chandika Hathurasingha was stripped of his team selection duties after Brisbane.
Batting coach Jon Lewis, meanwhile, has taken leave for “a family matter” and there has reportedly been a distracting social media spat between the wife of one-day skipper Lasith Malinga and star all-rounder Thiasara Perera.
Sri Lanka´s form has also been poor. They came to Australia having lost their recent series against New Zealand 3-0.
Chandimal said it was important to put all the noise aside.
“It´s always tough for us as players with so many things happening, but whatever happens off the field we need to keep aside and control what we can control,” he said.