After India’s brilliant T20 series whitewash over the Blackcaps, albeit scraping past the hosts in last 3 games from a hopeless position, New Zealand , have roared back in style by winning the first ODI chasing an intimidating score of 347 with 11 balls to spare and thus has set up the ODI series nicely with 2 to play. The home team can seal the 3 match series if they win at Eden Park . However India has done very well in recent times in ODI series with come from behind series wins vs West Indies and formidable Australia at home, hence the Blackcaps will surely be wary of an Indian fightback. With flat pitches and small grounds on offer, no score is deemed to be safe. Time has come for ICC to look at the pitches on offer and the ground size for holding high profile international games for ODIs and T20Is. We hear that Virat Kohli has also voiced his dismay at the size of some of these grounds.
As for the 2nd ODI match, New Zealand won the first game purely on their batting brilliance ,however their bowling strength without their main frontline fast bowlers Boult , Henry and Furgusion has looked wafer thin as their only experienced bowler Tom Southee is clearly past his prime as far has white ball cricket is concerned. Their other inexperienced bowlers had looked ordinary in the 1st ODI as well as in the T20I series before this. With Ish Sodhi , their best spinner not playing in this series any further is another blow leaving Santner as their lone quality spinner. Thus the bowling will again be exposed to the Indian batters to make a meal out of it. Not much worry though for their batting apart from the unavailability of Kane Willliamson and Guptill’s lack of big runs.
Indian batting looks in very good space even without their regular openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The debutants ,Shaw and Mayank as well as the skipper himself looked in good nick in first game and both Iyer and Rahul are scoring heavily off late . However Rohit Sharma will be missed with team trailing the series 0-1 as many times in these situations Rohit has produced ,the crucial innings , mostly recently being his 100 vs Australia to level the series.
However its the Indian bowling and fielding which got badly exposed in the first ODI. The lucky escapes in the last 3 T20I games finally caught up with the Indian team . Shardul Thakur leaked runs and Kuldeep is still struggling to get back into his groove which took a strong beating in IPL 2019. Chahal with his experience of bowling in smaller grounds could replace Kuldeep at Auckland and also it’s a fact that at present Chahal is bowling much better than a struggling Kuldeep whose mystery seems to be a thing of the past now with international batters getting used to him with passage of time . Saini with his extra pace and ability to bowl yorkers should replace Shardul. Bumrah though still remains most economical, is not yet bowling at his best which is another slight worry for India. Also none of the India’s top 5 bowlers except Jadeja are quality fielders which is a worry for the captain in the middle. And to top it all , India just do not have a proper 6th bowling option , which means on a rainy day India have no cover. Gone are the days of Sachin, Sehwag , Ganguly and Yuvraj when many of the top Indian batters in previous batch used to be more than adequate bowlers. The humiliation at Hamilton seems to have exposed a few chinks in this Indian team.
However man for man , India are a better side and definitely a more well rounded bowling unit than New Zealand which might still be a factor in this series but Eden Park is a ridiculously small ground and thus toss will be a huge factor as the team winning it will chase on this ground no matter what the conditions. New Zealand are just one win away to reconfirm their superiority over India in ODI cricket dating back to the fateful 7th June 2019. With the sensational win under their belt from last game, they do have a bit of momentum now inspite of been without their best bowlers. They only need to be bit more level headed and get rid of nerves when closing in on a win.
Probable New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Tom Blundell, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (c & wk), Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, Hamish Bennett.
Probable India XI:Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav/ Yuzi Chahal , Navdeep Saini , Jasprit Bumrah.