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India has taken a 2-0 lead in the ODI series against New Zealand after another dominant display. There is no doubt that India is one of the better ODI teams in the world but even the most ardent Indian supporters would not have expected this level of superiority over New Zealand.
It was not too long ago that New Zealand blanked out Pakistan and Sri Lanka in New Zealand. They are a pretty settled side with plenty of options to call upon. India is just showing why it is going to be one of the favorites for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Coming to series at hand, India is just one more win away from sealing a series victory. Can New Zealand find a way past the Indians to keep this series alive or is it going to be one-way traffic only?
New Zealand seemed quite pleased to be chasing in this match and did pretty decently with the ball. The home side was looking at a very big target when India was 154 for no loss but eventually kept India down to 324. That is just about a par total in these small New Zealand grounds against a batting lineup that is used to chasing down such totals.
There were a few areas where New Zealand would like to improve. The lack of early wickets is obviously one but another one would be the number of loose runs they gave away in the final overs. There were too many easy scoring deliveries, dropped catches, and misfields.
New Zealand is playing against a very strong Indian side and cannot afford to make such mistakes. The best chance for New Zealand to win is by exposing the Indian middle order early and then putting sustained pressure on it.
The addition of Colin de Grandhomme and Ish Sodhi to the side were excellent decisions and we think New Zealand is going to stick to the same side for the third ODI as well. Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson were the standout bowlers for the side and always kept on looking for wickets.
Maybe adding Tim Southee instead of one of the all-rounders could provide them with another wicket-taking option up front.
The batting is where New Zealand has been losing its matches. Each of the top-6 batsmen got a start but did not make it count. Guptill has looked strangely subdued while Colin Munro looked suspect against spin.
Williamson was the only player that has looked in good form but was unlucky to get out just when he was starting to motor. A century from Williamson looks around the corner.
New Zealand will have to find some way of getting the spinners away for runs without taking undue risks. As of now, they are losing their wickets while trying to attack Kuldeep and Chahal. Maybe targeting the pace bowlers or the fifth bowler is something they can do in the next match.
Doug Bracewell made 57 at number 8 and showed the kind of batting depth that exists in the side. Surely, it is just a matter of time before New Zealand figures out a way to get past this Indian lineup.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, KS Williamson, Ross Taylor, TWM Latham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, IS Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, TA Boult.
The margin of victory in the second ODI signifies the gulf between Indian and New Zealand. That result, though, was down to the bowling effort of the Indians. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal kept the pressure on the New Zealand batsmen and picked up wickets in the middle overs.
We don’t think there is any way that the Indians can think of playing without both the leg-spinners in the side for the foreseeable future or in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
That will probably mean a slight adjustment to the Indian side’s personnel. Vijay Shankar is currently playing as the all-rounder but he does not have the bowling talent to consistently bowl his ten overs. He could only bowl two overs in the previous match and Kedar Jadhav had to bowl a much longer spell.
Now that Hardik Pandya has joined the side, he should play at number seven and start getting back into the groove of international cricket. Pandya is a better bowler than Shankar and could also be the power hitter than India is missing down the order.
On the basis of India’s performance in the last match, the batting order can also be rejigged a little. The top-3 for India is not going to change but MS Dhoni at number 5 seems to be one place too low.
Ambati Rayadu looks to be in slight danger at number 4 but whether India goes and makes this change so close to the ICC World Cup 2019 is a big question. Dinesh Karthik could slot in at 6 if Dhoni moves to 5 and give India some more firepower at the end of the innings.
India has won the first two matches without being tested and that is extremely creditable. The only apparent weakness in the side seems to be a weaker middle order which could struggle with the loss of early wickets.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, V Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, YS Chahal.
The side winning the toss is likely to want to bat first
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The third ODI between New Zealand and India is going to be played at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui. The teams are going to play at the same venue as the second ODI and so we have a good idea of what to expect.
The weather is expected to be sunny with only a hint of cloud around so getting a full match in should not be a problem.
The pitch at the Bay Oval was excellent for batting. The outfield was pristine and India got to 324 without ever really batting out of third gear. A score of 330 is the bare minimum at this ground batting first.
India has been very dominant in the series up until now and that has been down to its bowling. None of the batsmen have really hit their stride as yet and that should be scary to the Kiwis. The next match is going to be the last that Virat Kohli plays in this ODI series and we think he is going to want to sign off with a win.
Back India to win again.
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