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Setting priorities

Setting priorities

Prior to the start of the ongoing India-New Zealand series, Indian skipper Virat Kohli had asserted that "the one-day games this year are all about seeing what players, who get opportunities, add to the team combination, not necessarily about whether the chances of winning or losing vary or not". Indian cricket team's performance thereafter in the two One-Day Internationals against New Zealand — a side they whitewashed in the preceding T20 series of five matches — has been unconvincingly based on the skipper's attitude. Kohli prioritising T20 over ODIs is not wrong given a T20 World Cup scheduled to be held later this year. But it is definitely a change from his own perception of the game. True, trophies — particularly those like world cups — are a priority. But that simply is not what Virat Kohli has considered since his rise. Indian team's mentality prior to the start of the ODI series versus New Zealand may be a prime reason for the former's slump. Losing out the series in straight matches has been a blot on the Indian side despite their unprecedented T20 triumph down south. More so, a shaky performance also has a bearing on young players who can directly relate with their captain's mentality. For players like Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw and Iyer, even these ODIs matter as it is a make or break period in their careers. Second ODI significantly projected a lack of interest. Despite India bowling well to make New Zealand strive for runs — it was 197/8 — the latter managed a decent total of 273. India were bowled out at 251. It is important to note that Virat's ODI form was one of the defining moments of his career as he carved a place under Dhoni's leadership. India went on to become a threat in the ODIs as well as Test matches. But that zeal has relatively diminished, lacking the motivation to defeat Kiwis in a format they had the last laugh in the 2019 World Cup. India was undefeated in the World Cup and yet all it took was one match — Semi-Final — to quash all hopes of a third World Cup triumph despite a strong side.

While it was a day out for two relatively young openers, India must ensure a competitive spirit in the third ODI — and in general — since ODI remains the prime section of Cricket. India cannot afford to lose competitions the way it lost one in New Zealand. A diverse and equally strong focus on all three formats of the game is need of the hour.

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