India's 22-run defeat against New Zealand in the second ODI meant they had lost a bilateral series in any format for the first time since March 2019, when Australia beat India 3-2 in ODIs. From that loss, India had gone 12 bilateral series across formats, winning 11 and drawing one.
Despite the reverse, captain Virat Kohli said there were lots of positives for India to take from the defeat, particularly lauding how Navdeep Saini (45 off 49) and Ravindra Jadeja (55 off 73) had reignited a chase that looked buried at 153 for 7 in 31.1 overs. Their fightback mirrored New Zealand's own innings, which reached 273 for 8 after being 197 for 8 at one point.
"Particularly impressed with how we finished the game today. I thought in the first half we let things slip away from us a little bit," Kohli told the host broadcaster at the presentation. "You know 200 for 8 and they got to 270-plus. I thought we gave away 30-40 extra there. But having said that, we were in trouble with the bat as well. I think Saini and Jadeja showed great character to bounce back. Shreyas [Iyer] played really well as well.
"Look, we can take a lot of positives out of this particular game. As I said, one-day cricket in this calendar year is not as relevant if you look at the T20s and the Tests. But having said that, to show that kind of fight and to see who are the guys who can play like that under pressure is a big revelation for us. Pretty happy to see the fight that we showed in the end, but again, a game where we could have taken our chances and capitalised on it."
Kohli said there had been no message sent from the dressing room when Jadeja and Saini were putting together a 76-run eighth-wicket stand at almost a run a ball. "It's up to the individuals. Honestly we didn't send any message to Jadeja and Saini," he said. "They just took control of the situation. We actually wanted guys to figure out what needs to be done in a particular situation themselves, because when you send messages from the outside, it's not really what your instinct is telling you to do. So they followed their instinct.
"I think Saini in particular was brilliant. We didn't realise how good he can be with the bat and the fight he showed is a great sign for this team. If people in the lower order can show that kind of fight then it obviously gives more confidence to the middle order and top order to play in a positive manner from the first ball."
The series will now move to Mount Maunganui for the third and final ODI, and with the series winner already decided, Kohli indicated India might be open to giving opportunities to those who had been on the bench.
"We could definitely consider it. We're going to talk about it," he said. "We have nothing to lose now so we can really go out there and play the expressive cricket we are known to play and not worry too much about the results. We might look to give a few guys chances in the next game and to make sure that we still have a very good game of cricket."
Among India's reserves are Shivam Dube, Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant who haven't played in the ODI series yet. Out of them Pant is the only one who didn't get a T20I game either even after India took a 3-0 lead.