This short arm whip shot towards midwicket for a four reaffirmed that only Rishabh Pant is capable of strokes that look like Rishabh Pant. But it falls short of fully compensating for the stark decline in runs. Even though his six most recent white-ball matches have resulted in scores of 3, 6, 6, 11, 15, and 10, India may need to reconsider their decision to back Pant in the long run if his poor form doesn’t improve. India managed to depart New Zealand with a 1-0 defeat even though the third ODI seemed to be in favor of the hosts when rain interfered and finally decided the game. This and a few more middle-order mysteries glare at India.

The play was halted due to rain after Finn Allen’s 54-ball 57 and Devon Conway’s cautious unbeaten 38 off 51 balls helped New Zealand reach 104 for 1, well above the DLS target. Since the 20-over threshold wasn’t crossed, the game didn’t have a conclusion, but India knows they were able to escape after a disastrous batting display that was only saved by a cunning fifty from Washington Sundar. Shreyas Iyer missed out on a fifty, but India’s inability to accelerate effectively caused damage once again at the 20-over mark. Deepak Hooda attempted to hook the ball after Suryakumar Yadav was caught in a slip, and Pant’s dismissal once again stood out for its timing.

Just after the 20-over point, India was on 85/2 and ready to add to a 30-run partnership between Pant and Iyer. However, Pant gave in to the strain of a couple of dot balls and mishandled a pull-off Daryl Mitchell to deep square-leg, making 10 off 16 balls as he trudged off. The fact that Pant proceeded with the pull even though he was unable to catch the bounce said everything about how desperate that shot was. A batting maverick, Pant is equally capable of working miracles and bringing about calamity. However, some questions will be raised later if not now because white-ball cricket is more time and result-bound and therefore requires more consistency in terms of runs and contributions. Is Pant’s inclusion on the white-ball team due to his success in tests? Is he present due to his left-handedness? Given that Dinesh Karthik should also be excluded from the T20 competition, has he been given a wide berth?