Santner the standout on tough tour - Williamson
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson slammed his side's "extremely poor" batting performance after they lost eight wickets for 16 runs to be bowled out in 23.1 overs, their shortest completed ODI innings, and go down to India by 190 runs.
New Zealand came into the series decider on an equal footing. While conceding 269 on a slow surface may have made their task difficult, they wouldn't have expected to be rolled over for 79. Williamson said there were no excuses for how abject they were.
"It's extremely disappointing. After a tough Test series to bounce back and show the heart that was required, the fight that we needed to go two-all against a very good Indian side, was a superb effort," he said after the match. "But it is hard to look past out last performance right now, the emotion of just finishing the game.
"They got above-par initially with the bat on a tough surface. There are certainly no excuses from our end, we were extremely poor with the bat today. We want to be showing steps of improvement everyday. That's what's so frustrating, because we failed as a batting unit. The spinners of the Indian side bowled very well but I don't think it justified losing eight wickets for 20 or so runs. We were poor and India were very good."
While ruing the number of runs they conceded with the ball, Williamson lauded India's batsmen for the partnerships they stitched together. First, Virat Kohli shared a 79-run stand with Rohit Sharma before putting on 71 runs with MS Dhoni. Kedar Jadhav and Axar Patel then added 46 crucial runs in 6.3 overs at the end.
"The way the put together partnerships on a pitch that was slow was a very good effort. They kept going at five runs an over on this pitch, they certainly deserved to win today," he said. "They were fantastic. At the half-way stage, although we knew they had a good score on the board on that surface, we knew if we could get partnerships together, who knows, we could've done better. If we kept on a bit and played in excess in of 25-30 overs, with a bit of dew around, then who knows. But that was a long way off. We were never going to get there."
Except for Tom Latham, and to a lesser extent, Williamson, New Zealand's batting remained inadequate throughout the series. While Ross Taylor showed signs of returning to form in the last two games, he managed only 119 runs. Martin Guptill (111) and Corey Anderson (31 from four matches) also didn't turn up. Williamson stressed on the need to replicate the kind of consistency India's batsmen demonstrated.
"If you look at any winning performance, there are one or two significant performances. If you look at the India side, there's Virat [Kohli]. I think pretty much every game he made a significant contribution," he said. "Sometimes the conditions weren't the easiest to bat in but whoever that person is, we need a lot more. I think Tom Latham was outstanding.
"It was nice to see Guptill show that presence at the crease in the last couple of games, but we need to take those little good bits a lot further and look at someone like Virat, who I suppose… to get a 150 in that Mohali game was a hugely significant performance as opposed to perhaps a 40 or 50."
Williamson believed there were lessons to be learnt from playing against a good side in tough conditions, and said Mitchell Santner was a "highlight" of their tour. With 10 scalps, Santner was New Zealand's joint-highest wicket-taker in the Test series, along with Trent Boult. He was also their most economical bowler in the ODIs.
"He has been outstanding, a young cricketer who is new-ish to the side. Although conditions are favourable to spinners here there are a lot of spinners who come here and struggle," he said. "I guess it's because of the pace of the wicket against extremely good players of spin. Mitch has performed day in and day out. His change of pace and his ability to spin the ball was a great asset to have. Not to mention his batting and his fielding as well. [We] look forward to seeing his progression in the future."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun