A 'ground-breaking' series for NZ - McCullum
Brendon McCullum has termed the 4-0 win over India the "most satisfying" one-day contest he has been involved in and also called it a "ground-breaking" series for New Zealand. India, the World Cup and Champions Trophy winners, were ranked No. 1 going into the series, and McCullum said few had given New Zealand a chance at that time.
"From an ODI point of view, yes, this series is the most satisfying I have been a part of," McCullum said. "India arrived here as the No. 1 team in the world and not many expected us to compete with them, let alone get a series whitewash. We didn't allow them to play to their potential. But they are a very, very good team and as I have said before, we are very respectful of their standing in the game as the No. 1 team when they arrived on our shores. For us, as the No. 8 team, to put in a performance to topple these guys is something that makes this victory even sweeter. They have proven careers and proven statistics over a period of time and hence their ranking of No. 1 when they came here. Fortunately we have been able to topple them, which has been pleasing.
"We are delighted with the way we played in this series, especially on the back of fine performances from Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, and also the way the bowlers stepped up for us. So overall a ground-breaking series for us."
MS Dhoni said the difference between the sides was the middle-order batting, and McCullum agreed that Williamson and Taylor's contributions were key to New Zealand's dominance. "We are getting more runs, consistently, and that is on the back of some good form," McCullum said. "Especially the way Ross and Kane have batted through the middle overs. For your Nos. 3 and 4 to stamp their authority on the series the way they have done and the partnerships they have been able to create and get us in those positions to kick on towards the end. And not just kick on, because both of them have also batted very deep, that's allowed us to get big totals and when you get big totals then you are going to be pretty competitive.
"We have backed that up with the ball but I will put the majority of our success in this series down to the way our Nos. 3 and 4 have played."
Apart from the middle order, McCullum was also pleased with the efforts of his bowlers, who came out on top against the India batsmen in close finishes through the series. Kyle Mills had said this New Zealand attack was the deepest he had played in, and McCullum said the hosts were starting to develop a formidable bowling unit.
"Encouraging from a bowling point of view. Today we saw Matt Henry coming in his first game and it is a dream debut really," McCullum said. "His performance was fantastic and one that I am sure he will remember for a long time. It just shows the depth that we are starting to build in the fast bowling area. Kyle Mills also got stuck in today, so that's also a big gain for us from the series. The Southees, McClenaghans, Bennetts, Neesham, Anderson. We are starting to build a pretty formidable group of bowlers we are able to pick from and it is pretty encouraging.
"It's pleasing that new guys are coming into the environment and performing straight away but those guys work really hard behind the scenes as well. They play in domestic cricket to earn the opportunities that they are given, and in terms of role clarity I think we have seen guys mature into their roles and careers. The environment allows these guys to come in and perform and enjoy representing their country because it's the greatest time of their life and they should be able to get those results and when they do, it's pleasing for everyone."
New Zealand had already sealed the series in the fourth ODI in Hamilton but McCullum said there was absolutely no problem in motivating themselves for the fifth and final match. "We have worked very, very hard behind the scenes. We are not good enough to be complacent at this stage. We are not good enough to walk into a game half-hearted and today was a ruthless streak that we have been asking for a long time.
"Again we were led by the batting. It was tough because we desperately wanted to bowl first. To then peel off 300 with the bat was a nice feeling at half-time. Most of this ruthlessness and consistency is down to the way Ross and Kane have been batting."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo