India are placed ranked two in the ICC ODI rankings, on the other hand, the Kiwi’s at No three. The level of competition is expected to be high, and with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on the horizon, it becomes more important for the teams to establish their prowess and settle in on combinations.
India traditionally depends on their batting line. All-rounder Hardik Pandya and batsman K L Rahul, will be missing the series as the duo are suspended for their controversial comments on social media.
However, experts feel that Indian team can manage with their absence as they had in Australian series, where former Indian skipper M S Dhoni, brilliant batting not only lifted the trophy for India but also made him the player of the series after scoring three successive fifties.
In New Zealand, India will be hoping that the senior wicket-keeper batsman can continue in the same form and add more weight to batting side comprising of Virat, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Acknowledging India’s top order’s capability, Kiwi’s Ross Taylor has said, “Kohli is easily the best ODI player, but New Zealand shouldn’t get caught up in him. You’ve (India) got two pretty good openers before he gets in”.
The number four position still remains a huge concern for India as wicket-keeper batsman Ambati Raidu was tried on this position but he failed to grab the opportunity. Dhoni during the presentation ceremony at Adelaide said that after playing for 14 years he cannot say no to bat at any position. “But we have to take care of our team combination,” Dhoni added.
So, for the time being, the former captain can take care of that position, but India is looking to get the combination right, ahead of the biggest cricket carnival, they can try other at No four.
In bowling, India is enjoying their one of the best bowling performances. Medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who recently became the 19th Indian to take 100 ODI wickets, and pacer Mohammed Shami did a fine job leading the pace attack during the Australia series. As for spinners, India is probably the best armed.
Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and right-arm leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, both wrist-spinners, have learned ways to trouble batsmen on the best of batting pitches. Through the accurate left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja into the mix, he is a well-rounded battery.
On the other hand, the home team has the batsmen to counter the threat. Ross has been in splendid form in the limited-over game and will want to leave his mark again. Apart from him, Henry Nicholls and Martin Guptill too got some runs in the Sri Lanka series, as did captain Kane Williamson. Williamson has been guilty of throwing away starts, but has the ability to correct that.
To keep Indian strong batting line-up at bay, New Zealand’s bowlers has to be on the top of their form. They certainly have the talent to keep the best of batsmen in check. The established duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee have the support of Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry in the pace department.
Left-armer Mitchell Santner and right-arm leg spinner Ish Sodi will be taking care of the spin.
According to ICC’s official website, the wicket in McLean Park tends to favour swing bowlers, but even spinners get some purchase. The outfield does offer good reward for shots and batsmen can score quick runs once they get their eye set in.
The weather is expected to be bright and sunny, and chances of rain are minimal.
According to the Indian Standard Time (ISD), the first ODI will start on Wednesday from 0700 hrs.
The squads of both the teams are:
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor. (UNI)