So all is well that ends well. The Indians managed to shrug off the very bad day at the office in the fourth ODI and by winning the final game wrapped up the series 4-1. Given the fact that New Zealand have had the better of bilateral contests in recent years it was a pretty impressive performance though one supposes it will not be easy to forget or forgive the abysmal show at Hamilton.
The most encouraging aspect of the final ODI was that the middle order came good. There has been a question mark over the middle order for some time now and the feeling, quite rightly, is that the team is over dependent on the top order. This time for once the top order came a cropper but from 18 for four Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya lifted the score to a highly competitive 252 and the bowlers who have seldom let the team down saw to it that the Kiwis were always going to fall short of the target.
Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad has been saying that the team for the World Cup is more or less settled and on the evidence of the just concluded series it is difficult not to agree with him. The nucleus is very much there what with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rayudu, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik certainties as the batsmen. Also certainties are the utility players Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya and the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Among the seam bowlers the certainties are Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. There is place for an additional seam bowler and depending on the selectors’ preference youth or experience can be given the nod. There is also place for an extra batsman in which case Rishabh Pant should be the first choice unless the selectors plump for one more utility player and the choice here is between Vijay Shankar and Kedhar Jadhav.
This then is the nucleus of the Indian side for the World Cup. Whether it is good enough to regain the trophy or not is a moot point but what cannot be debated is that it is just about the best that India can field with the right blend of youth and experience.