By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jan 18, 2014
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men turn a new page when they face New Zealand in the first One-Day International (ODI) at Napier. It is a fresh start to the new year after a disappointing tour to South Africa, where they lost the ODI series 2-0. On the other hand, New Zealand too are growing into a better side and have the punch to beat anyone on their day.
India have dropped Yuvraj Singh from their one-day side and that leaves the door open for Ajinkya Rahane to come into the team. Ambati Rayudu is waiting in the wings, but Rahane should beat him in the race. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will be the main men at the top and they would eye a turn-around after the tough tour to South Africa.
Virat Kohli is India’s key man at No 3 with Rahane, in all probability, at No 4. Then, you have Suresh Raina and skipper Dhoni completing the line-up with Ravindra Jadeja at No 7. Ravichandran Ashwin is the leading spinner and he would also eye a change in fortunes. The interesting thing would be India’s pace-bowling attack. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma should be the three seamers. Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey would have to wait for their chances.
New Zealand have been bolstered by the return of Jesse Ryder at the top. His ton at Queenstown was pushed into oblivion as Corey Anderson hit that famous century. But, Ryder had a good time against India the last time and he would fancy his chances this time. Martin Guptill had a tough time off-late, but is a force to reckon with in ODIs. Expect him to bounce back anytime.
Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum are the danger men and the seniors in the side. If they get going, it is tough to stop them. The young Kane Williamson would be the calming influence in the batting and he would hold the line-up together with his more conventional approach.
Then you have the young talent in Anderson, who would want to make an impression on the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises as well. If he can get a good innings or two, his fortunes may swell in no time. Luke Ronchi, the Australian import has been in good touch in the Twenty20 Internationals against West Indies and would want to carry that form forward.
Kyle Mills will lead the bowling attack, which has the likes of Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan. James Neesham may have to wait for his chances as the trio are ahead in the pecking order. But, will there be a temptation to play Adam Milne due to his extra pace. It may be a tough call. Nathan McCullum, the lone spinner, has a test as he will bowl to batsmen who play the tweakers very well.
On paper, India may be stronger, but don’t count New Zealand out as they can strike form as a unit.
New Zealand (probable): Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi (wk), Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Mitch McClenaghan.
India (probable): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma.
Time: 06:30 IST | 01:00 GMT
Also on cricketcountry.com