Team India embark upon a stiff, if not uphill, assignment when they lock horns with a confident Kiwi outfit this Sunday at Napier in the first of the five one day internationals. Indian side will definitely look to kick start this year, no short of challenges, on a positive note.
Both sides possess a good bunch of talented youngsters who’ve already tasted a fair share of success at the international circuit. Tightly fought contests are on the cards. The rankings tell a starkly different story, howewer. India lead the ODI charts, while the Kiwis lie way down in the eight spot, a mammoth 36 points behind the visitors. Given the way the New Zealanders have performed in recent times, it would be literally, idiotic on one’s behalf to write them off even before the commencement of the series.
PITCHES : Kiwis’ strength is their pace battery. Hence, in all probability, Indians will be dished out lively pitches with nice, green tinge assisting their lethal pace attack. The ball will move around in the air given the windy overhead conditions and off the deck. Howewer, they will have it in the back of their minds that this ploy could very well backfire. It doesn’t take any rocket science to figure out that India’s got some serious swing bowlers in it’s arsenal too. Moreover, they would be equally wary of producing highways like they did in the recent series against the Carribean side, given the dangerous Indian batting lineup.
BATTING : Indian batsmen are class personified, replete with strokemakers. They have found sideways movement much easier to handle rather than spongy bounce. Hence, this tour could be a little easier than their previous assignment. Irrespective of all their unimaginable feats in the year gone by, there are no dearth of challenges to be overcome. Their collective failure against the Proteas means that the unforgiving Indian fans demand nothing short of a series victory in New Zealand.The batsmen will have to negotiate the new ball with utmost concentration and patience if they are to put up big scores on the board, which they are more than capable of.
The hosts possess a formidable batting lineup, proven so, specially in home conditions. While Ross Taylor , and Brendon Mccullum have the experience quotient going in their favour, they can hold the innings together too. Martin Guptil and the brand new sensation, Corey Anderson shape a fearless,young opening pair. Not to forget the reliable Kane Williamson in the middle order.
BOWLING : Clearly, the hosts are a step ahead in this department given they know the conditions well and more essentially, have the performances to back the stated point. The seasoned Kyle Mills and Tim Southee excellently complemented by Mitchell Mcclenaghan and Trent Boult form a deadly attack – all of whom can swing the ball at breakneck pace. The 19-year old Adam Milne will catch a lot of eyeballs thanks to his raw pace. Nathan McCallum does his job decently without much fuss.
Indian pace attack is an exciting lot. It has the required variety in it. Shami Ahmed will lead the pack, not to dismiss Ishaant Sharma who found some form in the African safari. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be licking his lips as the determinants are picture perfect for him, unlike South Africa where he was found wanting for pace. Indian tweakers will have to undertake a subdued, containment job.
RECENT FORM : The young New Zealand side is all pumped up after humbling the West Indians in all the three formats at home. The Indians, on the other hand, will be positive coming into the series though they didn’t taste any success in South Africa. It is so because they fought hard and made South Africa win the series instead of losing it oneself.
INDIA : Indian batting lineup will be more or less, the same as in the South African tour. The dropped Yuvraj Singh is likely to be replaced by Ajinkya Rahane, who impressed one and all by the dint of impressive string of performances in the previous test series. Ambati Rayudu is likely to warm the benches yet again. As far as the bowling lineup is concerned, Bhuvi and Shami are no brainers. Ishaant shouldn’t get a look in but will, going by Dhoni’s strategy of backing non-performing players. There might be the odd temptation to play the fourth seamer in tearaway quick, Varun Aaron or the all rounder, Stuart Bunny who is known to make the ball talk. Depending upon that decision, one or two spinners will be played – Jadeja seeming to be the preference over Ashwin.
New Zealand : will have little or no changes in it’s eleven from what it had against West Indies. It has a problem of plenty, in many ways, in the bowling lineup. It will be tough to pick the four pacers, leaving Doug Bracewell out. They may just go for all an all pace attack, which they should, at least for the first couple of one dayers.