'Middle orders were the difference' - Dhoni
MS Dhoni has said that the series was decided by the gulf in class between the middle orders of India and New Zealand. Indeed, while Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor piled on the runs for the hosts, Dhoni and Virat Kohli were regularly left with too much ground to regain after the other Indian batsmen had disappointed time and again.
"More often than not we were chasing big scores. You know you can't rely on a couple of batsmen," Dhoni said. "What we have seen is that apart from one game, most of the times we have been behind, we have only been doing the catching-up work. And the run-rate goes too high. The last 25 overs, you can't really look to chase eight or nine an over. That was a setback to some extent."
India's problems began at the top where the openers could not build on their starts, and also ended up consuming more overs than usual. A more positive approach from his batting colleagues instead of caution would have helped, Dhoni added.
"At times people start to think too much. Yes they bowled really well. But at the same time we need to back ourselves to play the shots or the kind of cricket that we are known to play. To some extent we got bogged down. We didn't try a different thing. You may lose a few games but it's also important to see the kind of attitude that you bring into the game and try to play aggressive cricket. If you get out, you get out. At the end of the day if you lose too many wickets you are just hoping to save wickets. It has to be a real mix. It's not like this is the formula that will solve the problem.
"What is important is to have a positive intent right from the start and positive intent doesn't always mean looking for the big shots. Positive intention when it comes to defending a ball or looking for a single. So that's a change that we'll have to do."
In complete contrast to their Indian counterparts, Williamson and Taylor had three century partnerships in the series to go with a fifty stand, and Dhoni said not being able to strike in the middle overs was what eventually pulled India down.
"The main difference in the two sides was the middle order batting. They batted really well. They rotated the strike well. Kept wickets in hand and last few (overs) they went for the big shots. That has been the case throughout. If it wasn't Ross, Guptill played a brilliant innings. If it was not Kane, then it was somebody else.
"It was the middle overs that were very crucial and that's where they really dominated. That's the time when we are losing wickets and we are only doing the catching up."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo