It was pretty much the same time on the calendar when the New Zealanders came visiting India last year for a limited overs showdown.
After the mauling in the Test format, they switched gears and proved to be a worthy competitor in the ODI series.
The series eventually was level at 2-2 before India won the showdown at Vishakhapatnam. There were many positives to take from the tour which will be effectively put to great effect this time around despite a more formidable and improved Indian side waiting to face them with all eagerness.
Fully Prepared To Challenge The Mighty Indians
The team selection, which was divided into two parts, was quite impressive.
Eight players present in the squad have a fresh experience of playing in the Indian condition and joined the first set of players selected – nine in total, after the end of the “A” tour. The attention paid to picking the best possible line up indicated that the Kiwis aren’t taking anything lightly but, at the same time, it also showed that this upcoming tour is part of their team building plan.
The upcoming series will surely help the Blackcaps identify the players that can fill in the vacant roles in the top order and all-rounder’s department.
Coach Mike Hesson’s call to replace Tom Latham with the aggressive Colin Munro for the opening slow was confirmed by Kane Williamson who added that Latham would instead play in the middle order. The struggled to find a reliable ODI opener since the departure of Brendon McCullum is very well known. If plans work out, India bowler will be up against a highly efficient batting order that has Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in their ranks.
The bowling attack will be the same which played a huge role in the victories during the last tour. It comprises of Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi. The eyes will go on these men to deliver their performance. Opposition opener Rohit Sharma has already acknowledged this fact highlighting Boult as the main threat.
India Look To Continue The Joy Ride
India is on top of their game, unarguably. However, that does not mean that they don’t have issues to think. Shikhar Dhawan is back in the side and will claim his place as the opener with Rohit Sharma which implies that Ajinkya Rahane will start the post-festival season on the bench.
Another possible change could be in the form of Dinesh Kartik who could come in place of Manish Pandey. The latter has been the first choice in recent times, but Kohli may probably think of changing his mind.
The rest of the Xi is expected to be the same which sacked Australia 4-1 in the ODI series.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Manish Pandey/Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi
It’s the first game of the series and both the side are meeting after a long time. The New Zealander also look a more settled that the Aussies who played recently, therefore, it can be safely assumed that the upcoming opening contest will be a keenly fought contest. Forecasting a clear winner will be not easy. However, India holds an edge considering their current form and balanced side.