Mitchell McClenaghan (left) and Corey Anderson © Getty Images
By Abhijit Banare
When two evenly matches teams face-off, the broadcasters often try to brand it with some fancy synonym for a contest. But going by rankings, New Zealand is nowhere close to dragging down the One-Day International (ODI) champions. However, when you look at the New Zealand, you would realize that they aren’t exactly the underdogs. After their performances against the West Indies, even a formidable Indian side will have to be careful. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already made his intentions clear as India are taking New Zealand very seriously.
Let us have a look at some of the New Zealand players, who will present a threat to the Indian team in the upcoming ODI series:
Martin Guptill © Getty Images
He is the closest to the Rohit Sharma-type player for the Kiwis. His elegance while batting in full flow is a delight to watch. But it is equally upsetting to see him throw his wicket away courtesy poor shots. When the Indians are bowling, Guptill will be the first target because he can score runs at ease.
Ross Taylor © Getty Images
Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum
Not much is required to describe the threat they can pose. Both of them have already displayed their abilities time and again over the years. Ross Taylor, once criticised for having a pre-dominant leg-side approach, is still the same; but has managed to adapt to the situation. The last thing Indians would prefer to see is these two batting in the slog overs. Going by the poor record of the Indian bowlers during that phase of an innings and shorter grounds in New Zealand, the pacers could be taken for a ride if they don’t contain these two beasts. Brendon McCullum though hasn’t called the shots with his batting in the West Indies series. In comparison, Taylor looks like a man on a mission with renewed vigour since the tons in the Test series. Their shots aren’t pleasing to the eyes are are definitely demoralizing.
The new sensation of Kiwi cricket and another in the list of all-rounders produced by the nation. Corey Anderson can bowl fast and can give it a whack with the bat in hand. After that fastest hundred, everyone sat up to notice this Kiwi. As mentioned earlier, he would be among the few, Dhoni would not like to see against his pacers in the death overs.
India’s weak-link has been bowling and there’s not much caution to follow in the batting. Mitchell McClenaghan along with other pacers, especially Tim Southee and Kyle Mills will be the pace threat. McCenaghan has showed his capability in 2013 (the year of his debut) with 35 wickets in 14 ODIs. McClenaghan is the new dependable pacer for New Zealand and all eyes will be set on him to make an early dent into the solid Indian batting.
Apart from the above, James Neesahm is another interesting all-round prospect. Nathan McCullum and Kane Williamson will be crucial with their bowling in the middle overs where they are known to slow things down. Besides, Williamson is equally reliable with the bat. Coach Mike Hesson would be well aware that India won’t be as easy as the West Indians. The Men in Blue will not give up even when the wind is against them. At the same time he will be confident that this is the best talent he could have asked for against the No 1 ODI side. A victory will be a fitting certificate for the Kiwis’ growth as a team
Put aside your perceptions about rankings and there’s an evenly-contested five-match series on the cards.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)