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Will rain dampen India's chances of saving NZ ODI series?

Source: PTI
Last updated on: November 29, 2022 14:20 IST
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The weather forecast for the third and final ODI is not encouraging as far as India are concerned, with some heavy rain predicted on Wednesday.

IMAGE: Shikhar Dhawan-led India face a must-win third and final ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Frustrated by the fickle weather, a desperate Indian team will pray for a rain-free third and final ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday in its bid to finish on an even keel in a series that neither had context nor any major takeaways.

New Zealand chased down a huge target to win the first ODI by seven wickets before the second match in Hamilton was abandoned after just 12.5 overs in the Indian innings because of heavy rain.

 

The weather forecast for the third and final match is not encouraging as far as the visitors are concerned, with some heavy rain predicted on Wednesday.

"High cloud, then showers developing from afternoon, possibly heavy. Westerlies turning fresh southerly in the afternoon, strong about Banks Peninsula," said MetService, NZ's official weather forecasts and warnings.

Out of five white-ball games that also includes three-match T20I series, two matches (one T20I and one ODI) were abandoned because of rain and one game (T20I) was curtailed significantly and ended in a tie due to Duckworth-Lewis method.

IMAGE: Head coach VVS Laxman speaks to Suryakumar Yadav during the Indian team's nets session in Christchurch on Tuesday. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

With the series in line, Shikhar Dhawan and his men would aim to put up an impactful performance at the picturesque Hagley Oval ground, which has traditionally helped the seam bowlers and has an average score in the 230 range in the past few years.

India's batting in the first Powerplay (1-10 overs) has been much talked about and even though skipper Dhawan has been a prolific ODI opener over the years, even he understands that to secure his place for the  World Cup next year, his approach needs a sea change.

His young opening partner Shubman Gill, however, has shown more intent in shot selection with scores of 50 and 45 not out in the two games.

IMAGE: Shikhar Dhawan working on his batting during the nets. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

So has Indian cricket's current blue-eyed boy Suryakumar Yadav, whose three sixes in a short 12.5 overs of play at the Seddon Park, did send the Indian supporters into raptures.

But the bigger challenge for Indian batting line-up will be to put up an above par score against New Zealand on a ground where swing bowlers have ruled the roost in the past few ODI games.

And for that, not just the openers or Suryakumar but the likes of Rishabh Pant also needs to step up and be counted.

Rishabh's ODI record is pretty impressive but currently, the runs have dried up since the tour of England and he is one player, who needs to fire in order to ensure that Indian middle-order looks competitive against a quality Black Caps attack.

Rishabh's presence and lack of bowling options among the specialist batters also effectively mean that Sanju Samson has to once again sit out, like the last game where Deepak Hooda, because of his all-round skills, was preferred over the immensely popular cricketer from Kerala.

IMAGE: The pace duo of Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik enjoy a strong bonding on and off the field. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

Since the last match was a washout, it will be interesting if interim head coach VVS Laxman decides to shuffle with the playing XI, especially the bowling attack where Kuldeep Yadav is yet to get an opportunity.

But to leave out either Yuzvendra Chahal or Washington Sundar will be doing them a disservice.

Shardul Thakur looked pedestrian in the opening ODI in Auckland and, in all likelihood, Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Chahar and the fiery Umran Malik will continue as the three pacers.

For the New Zealand pacers Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson, there couldn't be a better venue to exploit the frailties in India's batting to the fullest.

Similarly, the Indian bowling attack would get a conducive bowling track to ask some probing questions to the likes of Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, who have proved to be the thorn in flesh during the last game.

Teams:

India: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Umran Malik.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Finn Allen, Devin Conway, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson.

Match starts at 7am IST. (Live broadcast on Amazon Prime Video)

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