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India has been traveling away from home for most of 2018 and now it starts 2019 with a series of limited over matches against New Zealand. First up are the New Zealand vs India ODI matches which promise to be exciting and very evenly contested.
India is the second-ranked ODI country in the world while New Zealand is the third. There is no country that has a better win percentage than New Zealand at home in the last one year and so India is going to have to fight very hard to win.
There are some striking similarities between the sides in terms of how the batting order shapes up. The challenge of playing cricket in the small New Zealand grounds with some of the flattest pitches in world cricket is also daunting. Can India’s spinners remain effective in such conditions? Are both sides close to finalizing their final group for the ICC Cricket World Cup which is fast approaching?
These and more questions will be answered in this five-match ODI series. Starting well is going to be very important for both sides.
New Zealand brushed aside Sri Lanka with barely a scare in their previous assignment but will be aware of the challenge that India poses. There are going to sterner challenges for both the New Zealand batsmen and bowlers.
Let’s start with looking at New Zealand’s batting which has taken a fearsome appearance in the last few months. Martin Guptill is back from his injury and opens the batting with Colin Munro. These are two fearsome strikers of the ball that are going to come hard at the Indian bowlers.
Martin Guptill is one of the world’s best ODI batsmen. He has seven hundreds in the last four years and is scoring runs at an average of close to 50.00 in that time frame. He has a good record against India and loves scoring massive hundreds.
Colin Munro admits that he is still finding the right pace for ODI cricket but his exploits in T20 cricket have shown just the kind of destruction he can wreak. These two are then followed by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor.
These are the two best batsmen in New Zealand cricket and responsible for its rise in ODI cricket. Williamson has five hundreds in the last five years and is scoring runs at an average of 47 while Taylor has 8 hundreds and is scoring runs at an average of 69.72.
Only one player in the world has a better average than Taylor in that time span and that’s Virat Kohli.
Ross Taylor comes into this series in some red hot form as well with six fifty-plus scores in his last six innings. He has the opportunity to become only the second man to score seven consecutive fifties in this first ODI against India.
Henry Nicholls has emerged as a very dangerous number 5 batsman as well. This part of the batting lineup is set in stone and we don’t think New Zealand is going to tamper with it till the ICC World Cup 2019.
Jimmy Neesham and Tim Siefert played the series against Sri Lanka but are going to be missing against India. Neesham is injured while Siefert has been dropped. In come Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme to the side, players of proven class which show the depth in the New Zealand side right now.
Doug Bracewell got a chance to prove how dangerous he can be in the T20’s and he could get a chance as well.
Similarly strong is the New Zealand bowling lineup. They have the option of choosing between Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, and Matt Henry. Only three out of these four can play and we would actually drop Southee.
Lockie Ferguson is our pick to be one of the leading wicket-takers of the series. Ish Sodhi seems to have the spinner's slot locked up although Mitch Santner has been picked as a backup or second spinner as well.
This is a very strong New Zealand side, perhaps the strongest we have seen in a long time.
KS Williamson, Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, TG Southee, Colin Munro, TWM Latham, Lockie Ferguson, Ross Taylor, Mitchell Santner, TA Boult, Doug Bracewell.
India is coming to New Zealand on the back of a historic Australian tour where they won the Test Series and the ODI series. Make no mistake, though, India is not going to be taking New Zealand lightly.
The small grounds should favor the Indian batsmen who are among the most dangerous in the world right now. India has two all-time ODI greats playing for it right now in Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. These two have scored more runs and more centuries than anyone else in the last four years.
In fact, Rohit Sharma’s numbers would make him a contender to be the best ODI batsman in the world in any other era but Virat Kohli’s brilliance dwarfs that as well.
For this tour, the big-hitting Rohit could take the lead for India. If he gets set, we can see him adding another double century on this tour and recommend a small bet on that in every match because the payoff could be huge.
Shikhar Dhawan is another ODI giant and should not be underestimated either. He had a quiet time in Australia but will be looking to set things right in New Zealand.
India does not have a very settled middle order right now. It appears as if MS Dhoni will bat at 4 for some time now after his two match-winning performances in Australia. The ODI totals tend to be very high in New Zealand and so Dhoni may not have the time he likes to take in the middle on most occasions.
Following Dhoni at 4 could be Kedar Jadhav at 5 and Dinesh Karthik at 6. India has Ambati Rayadu with them in this series but it will be difficult for him to get a chance unless there is an injury or India locks up the series with a match or two to go. He seems to have lost his place in the pecking order and the other players have taken their chances.
The number 7 position is an interesting one. Ideally, India would like to have Hardik Pandya here but his career is in limbo right now after a poorly though interview. India can choose between Ravindra Jadeja, Vijay Shankar, and Krunal Pandya for the number 7 position.
Ravindra Jadeja has been the preferred number 7 up until now but he will have to sit out if India wants to play both of its wrist spinners. We think Vijay Shankar is likely to be playing this first match for India.
That leaves two fast bowlers, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, and Mohammad Shami, along with Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
India will have to hope that its spinners can take wickets while doing a containing job on the small New Zealand grounds otherwise, it is going to be in big trouble. Getting 10 overs out of Vijay Shankar is also going to be a big ask so someone like Kedar Jadhav would be the third spinner in the side.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, V Kohli, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, V Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, YS Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.
The side winning the toss is almost certainly going to field first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The New Zealand vs India first ODI is going to be played at McLean Park, Napier. The weather forecast for Napier on match day is excellent. There is no threat of rain and we should have an uninterrupted match.
The conditions are expected to be excellent for batting. A Super Smash game in Napier just a few days back so over 200 runs scored in each T20 inning. We can expect a score around 330 to be par in this match.
New Zealand certainly seems to be the more settled side and is playing in home conditions. India is also without Jasprit Bumrah, its best batsman, and could take some time to figure out its best paying combinations.
New Zealand should be able to get off to a winning start.
Back New Zealand to win.
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