Focus on Umran Malik as Shikhar Dhawan and co prepare for ODI series opener against BlackCaps in Eden Park | NZvIND

Umran Malik during Team India’s training session at Eden Park in Auckland ahead of ODI series opener. Image Courtesy: BCCI

Xtra Time Web Desk: The Indian cricket team led by stand-in captain Shikhar Dhawan will take on New Zealand in the ODI series opener at Eden Park on Friday. The Men in Blue has been sweating it out at the nets for the last couple of days as they renew battle with World No 1 side in ODIs. The focus in the training session has been Jammu & Kashmir speedster Umran Malik, who missed out during the recent T20I series against the BlackCaps. Umran has bowling at full tilt at the nets ever since he arrived with the Indian team in New Zealand. He will have a tough fight with Arshdeep Singh as one of the two will make ODI debut.

As far as the batting order is concerned, Shubman Gill is likely to open the innings with captain Shikhar Dhawan. Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav will go in at No 3 and 4 respectively. Despite his poor form in recent times, Rishabh Pant will bat at No. 5, He is also the vice-captain of the side in ODI series.

The No 6 spot is where the contention begins. India would have ideally wanted an all-rounder. But with Sanju Samson around, India would take the chance, which will mean leaving out Deepak Hooda.

But that also means India will be with just five specialist bowlers and no sixth bowling option.

With Kuldeep Sen being asked to join the ODI squad for the tour to Bangladesh, the Indian team management are left with Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur as specialist pace bowling options. If both is preferred in the playing XI then it will be either Arshdeep Singh or Umran Malik, who will get a chance.

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are likely to be the specialist spinners in the side although Washington Sundar is also in contention.

Here is the likely playing XI for India for the first ODI:

Shikhar Dhawan (C), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (WK), Sanju Samson, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Arshdeep Singh/Umran Malik, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal