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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Can the Kiwis halt the Indian juggernaut in first ODI?

Can the Kiwis halt the Indian juggernaut in first ODI?

Last updated on: October 21, 2017 16:26 IST

With the Indians on a high after comprehensively thrashing World champions Australia earlier this month, the Black Caps will have to come up with a special effort to make a mark against the rampaging hosts.

India's players celebrate

IMAGE: India's players rejoice at the fall of an Australian wicket at the Eden Gardens in the just-concluded ODI series. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

Hardly challenged in a dominating run this season, India once again start as overwhelming favourites when they take on an inconsistent-but-gritty New Zealand in a three-match One-Day International series, starting in Mumbai, on Sunday.

With the Indians on a high after comprehensively thrashing World champions Australia earlier this month, the Black Caps will have to come up with a special effort to make a mark against the rampaging hosts.

Banking on settled batting and bowling combinations, with most of the columns ticked, the hosts appear too well-groomed a unit for the comfort of the visitors.

Although India suffered a resounding loss to South Africa on a belter of a track at the Wankhede three seasons ago, they went on to win three series on the trot in their backyard and are now a force to reckon with in the upcoming series.

In fact, since surrendering to Australia back in 2009-10, India have lost only to Pakistan (2012) and South Africa in 16 bilateral rubbers, a clear indication of how dominant they have been in familiar conditions.

Considering that the 4-1 result over Australia was achieved without skipper Virat Kohli being in top form and despite the absence of prolific opener Shikhar Dhawan, it was a huge achievement.

Vice-captain Rohit Sharma scored 296 runs, including a century and two fifties at an average just below 60. The ever-dependable Ajinkya Rahane hit 244 runs, which included four half-centuries, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya amassed 222 runs.

The ever-reliable Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a subdued time with the bat against Australia.

New Zealand players celebrate

IMAGE: New Zealand's players celebrate the fall of an Indian wicket during their last ODI series in 2016 . Photograph: BCCI

If they continues to fire with the same intensity, it will be difficult for New Zealand to contain the home team on a Wankhede track, which is expected to provide the ideal pace and bounce for the batsmen to go for the shots.

With a new-look spin attack with Chinaman Kuldeep Singh and orthodox leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, along with the left-arm orthodox Axar Patel as back-up, India's slow bowling too sports a supremely challenging look.

Among the pacers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are expected to trouble the Kiwis in the opening as well as ‘death’ overs.

However, the New Zealanders will bank on Ross Taylor, their senior-most batsman and former captain, who scored a cracking century at the Brabourne Stadium against the Indian Board President's XI in their second practice game.

The form of Taylor, opener Martin Guptill and captain Kane Williamson are going to be crucial in the Kiwis trying to match the Indian batting might.

Tom Latham, who also warmed up with a ton in the second practice game along with Taylor, offers some big-hitting options in the middle. But, overall, the visitors' batting pales in comparison to the home team's, especially in sub-continental conditions.

The experienced pace duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee will have to take up the responsibility of getting quick wickets at the top. The spinners, in left-arm orthodox Mitchell Santner and leggie Ish Sodhi, could have a tough time against the Indian batsmen in the middle overs.

This will be India's first series with the new ODI playing conditions in place.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, George Worker and Ish Sodhi.

Match commences at 1:30 pm IST.

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