Internet Desk: Virat Kohli led Indian Cricket team is in prime form in the limited overs cricket right now and they will be eyeing to continue that dominating run on their home soil when they face New Zealand in the first of three-match ODI series at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
The Men in Blue are high on confidence after they thumped World Champions Australia in the ODI series 4-1. On the other hand the Kiwis have to do something special to beat India at their own backyard.
The hosts beat the Aussies 4-1, despite missing the service of their star opener Shikhar Dhawan who was with his wife due to her illness. India captain Virat Kohli too was not in that good touch but the others did really well to cover that up.
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 that included four half-centuries, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya amassed 222 runs. Though Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a subdued time with the bat against Australia.
If they continue to fire with the same intensity, it would 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 the 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 at death overs.
However, New Zealanders will bank on their senior-most batsman and former captain Ross Taylor, 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 option 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 may have a tough time against the Indian batsmen in the middle overs.
This will be the second series for India with the new ODI playing conditions after the one against Australia.
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.