About the Match
India's home season of ODI cricket continues as New Zealand makes its way to try and stop the Indian juggernaut. It is a short and sharp 3 match series which has the potential to be tricky for both teams.
India will be hoping to maintain its recent form while New Zealand will bank on our strategizing their opposition.
India's dominant ODI form has led to experts calling it the best ever ODI team that the country has assembled. Finalists in the Champions Trophy, a 5-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka, and a 3-1 demolition of the Aussies helps lend credence to this argument.
The New Zealanders were probably the only team in recent times to have come to India and then push India close. A closely fought 3-2 scoreline from their last series helps put into some perspective the difference between the two sides and we have a feeling that it will be no different this time either.
The strong Indian team has a few headaches and concerns that they will be keen to get behind them. The biggest among these is their batting order. Rohit Sharma is an automatic selection at the top of the order while both Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane have made a strong case for their inclusion in the eleven as well. The problem is that India does not want to play Rahane in the middle order so he ends up missing out too often.
In the middle order, Kohli owns the number 3 position but Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, and MS Dhoni are not the strongest of middle orders.
Jadhav and Pandey can be susceptible early on in their innings while MS Dhoni is a fading force.
Hardik Pandya is still early in his ODI career and is going through a purple patch and it will be interesting to see if he continues to play at 4 or goes back to his original position of 7.
This is a very strong batting lineup especially in their own conditions but a couple of early wickets could cause some flutters in the camp.
Having a strong batting lineup is nothing new for India, however, having a varied bowling attack that is capable of taking wickets in any condition is. We think Rohit Sharma is going to be key for India in the first match being played at his home ground of Mumbai.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Kuldeep Yadav are all bowling very well and are able to pick wickets at crucial moments in the game. The pacers are among the best at the death overs in the world and with Hardik Pandya also able to consistently able to get his 10 overs in without too much trouble India has plenty of options to fall back on.
We think this Indian team is going to be difficult to beat in any condition because of the depth the bowling attack has developed.
The New Zealanders have been pretty successful against India in Indian conditions. They famously upset them in the World T20 opener where they actually used spin as an attacking option better than India.
Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner were both part of that match and will be likely to be in the playing eleven for the first ODI as well. They may not have the same kind of surface to work with this time but they definitely have the talent to make their mark on this series.
The real edge to the New Zealand bowling attack will come from their pacers, Trent Boult, and Tim Southee. Both of them form one of the best fast bowling pairs going around and have plenty of experience playing in Indian conditions as well.
How well these two bowlers go against the Indian top order could well be the determinant of this series result. We personally think that they might have a tough time against an in-form batting lineup but will expose the frailties of this middle order on at least one occasion.
A change at the top of the order will put Colin Munroe right at the center of New Zealand’s plans. He has been asked to go up the order and play his shots, something he is very capable of doing. His recent form in the county circuit has been breathtaking and we believe that this will mark the beginning of a wonderful phase of his international career as well.
Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, and de Grandhomme to follow in the batting order makes for impressive reading.
Guptill can destroy attacks while Williamson scores hundreds with the utmost ease. If there is any batting attack that can give India a run for their money in Indian conditions then its this New Zealand side.
It can also be taken for granted that New Zealand will be brilliant in the field and make any target that they set hard to get.
We can see New Zealand giving India a much tougher fight than Australia managed a couple of weeks ago.
Pitch and Conditions
The first match will be played at the run-scoring paradise that is Wankhede. 300? 350? Or 400? Nothing is out of the question. In fact, South Africa played the last ODI here and scored 438.
Two strong batting lineups will meet each other on a flat batting track and slug it out. There is some rain around in the air and although a chance of an interruption is currently predicted as being low, dew could play a factor.
We think that New Zealand will push India but the hosts will be able to emerge victorious in this one.
India to win.