BJ Watling will have to be more consistent when it comes to 50-over format
BJ Watling will have to be more consistent when it comes to 50-over format Getty Images

BJ Watling has been New Zealand s mainstay in Tests, but in the One-Day International (ODI) format, he does not have much to boast about. He last played an ODI in 2013 and even in this series against India, he is a back-up wicketkeeper to Luke Ronchi. Watling started off his ODI career with a fifty but has been inconsistent thereafter, notching up just four more half-centuries in the next 19 innings. He has opened and also batted in the middle-order in his short ODI career but has failed to cement his place in the side. After New Zealand took a drubbing in the first ODI at Dharamsala, including Watling in the mix for the second ODI will not be a bad idea. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs New Zealand, 2nd ODI at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi

For a batsman of Watling s quality, he batted very low down the order even in the Test series. He always got to bat at the No. 7 position and often found his team in a spot of bother. Batting so low ensured that he batted only with the tail and sadly for him, it did not wag on most occasions. Watling in the longest format has often dug New Zealand out of precarious situations. He is a team man and has batted in almost every position from the opening slot to No. 8. Statistics show that he has scored most of his runs in Tests at the No. 7 position, but that does not mean that he cannot do well batting up the order. New Zealand middle-order was severely exposed in the first ODI and with just a couple of days to go for the second game, New Zealand will dearly want to get the combinations right. READ: Virat Kohli not just an example for youngsters in the Indian team

Corey Anderson is an all-rounder but has been advised against bowling in this series. If New Zealand were to replace Jimmy Neesham, they will go into the match with one bowler short, which will mean skipper Kane Williamson will have to get in 10 overs from somewhere else, which could mean he himself bowling a few overs. Replacing Anderson will be the best option in this case. It will be harsh to drop him after just one match, especially coming off the back of a long lay-off, but that New Zealand may be forced to do so in the best interest of the team. New Zealand also has Anton Devcich, who is a decent all-rounder. His inclusion will give New Zealand an extra spin option as well.

The best scenario for New Zealand will be to include Devicah in place of Neesham and Watling in place of Anderson. Watling should be batting in the top 5, with Kane Williamson in at 3, Ross Taylor at 4, followed by Watling at No. 5.

Watling averages over 39 in List A. He has often batted at No. 6 for his team Northern Districts and has been a good finisher for them over the years. Watling s ability to read the game is quite good. He is a busy player and is someone, who loves to fight it out in the middle. Once in, he can get you those big scores. We have not seen such instance yet in ODIs, but with New Zealand desperately needing a win on this tour, we could see Watling put his hand up and delivering. Even in Tests, he rarely hogs the limelight, even when he scores big runs. He just goes about his business in a quiet fashion. In a way, he is the unsung hero of New Zealand cricket at the moment.

His last 3 to 4 seasons in the domestic circuit to have not been particularly fruitful, but if Watling can show the same resilience he has shown in Tests, he will come up with flying colours even in the shorter format.

If he fails, New Zealand must still persist with him for a longer time. There is little doubt that the Brendon McCulum s absence in this format is a major loss for New Zealand. This being New Zealand s first ODI series since McCullum s retirement, they will take some time to adjust to the fact that their inspirational skipper is no longer their teammate. They have young Williamson, who has been entrusted to lead New Zealand into their new era. He got his Test captaincy off to a good start with a 2-0 win over Zimbabwe, but when conditions and the opposition were a bit challenging his Black Caps side surrendered meekly in the Test series against India. Williamson will hope that New Zealand can up some fight against India in the ODI series. He will hope that the loss in the first ODI was just a minor setback. Though Watling by no means is a direct replacement for McCullum, he is someone, who can turn into a good limited-overs player for them.

India, even with a young and experienced team will be able to give any quality side around the world a good fight. They did that in the first ODI and will want to complete a whitewash in the ODI series as well, just like they did in the Tests.

At 31, Watling is surely not a long-term prospect for New Zealand in ODIs, but his inclusion could ensure a smooth transformation. He is a reliable wicketkeeper as well. If the New Zealand team management want to play Luke Ronchi solely as a batsman, Watling is more than capable of standing behind the wickets. Out of his 22 ODIs, he was the designated wicketkeeper for 10 matches.

New Zealand may not make any changes to their team for the second ODI, but they definitely need Watling in the thick of things, even in the limited-overs fixtures as early as possible. His experience in the middle-order is perhaps what New Zealand need to get themselves back on track.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry.com. He is a sports enthusiast and a keen observer of cricket, the contests, and its personalities. When not tracking cricket, he follows the world s soccer leagues and is somewhat partial towards Liverpool. His Twitter handle is @pramz)