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India currently lead the five-match series 2-1 IANS

The Indian cricket team will take on New Zealand in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) of their ongoing five-match series on Wednesday. With the series tilted in favour of the hosts who have a 2-1 lead against the Kiwis, the game at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Ground in Ranchi could be the series decider. MS Dhoni, who slammed a brilliant 91-ball 80 in the third ODI to play an extremely important role in the Indian win, would be happy to return home and build on the form that he has gained. At the same time, Virat Kohli, after getting an extended run in this ODI series following the retention of the squad, will also want to make most of the form he is in. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs New Zealand, 4th ODI at Ranchi

New Zealand will certainly have their backs against the wall for having suffered two massive defeats against India. They did play impressive cricket in the second ODI, strangulating the Indian batsmen with tight line and lengths and good fielding after setting a modest target. Though New Zealand were able to pull off a result in their favour by a very narrow margin at New Delhi, they still have the tasks cut out for them. New Zealand s batsmen are yet to click together, and this is their main worry for the touring side ahead of the fourth ODI.

But the hosts, who are in a far more comfortable position in this series, there is an opportunity to test their other players who have not got opportunities so far in this series. The likes of Mandeep Singh, Jayant Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni have so far waited to get a chance, and India can be expected to make at least two changes in their side. There are a few cricketers in the Indian team who have not been able to make a mark so far in this series. Akshar Patel has taken only 1 wicket in last 3 matches, and Manish Pandey is yet to fire in the middle-order in which he batted at No. 4 two out of three times. Let us take a look at the possible likely XI which India can field on Wednesday in the fourth ODI at Ranchi:

Top-order: Even though there are the likes of Mandeep in the ranks, India would want to stick with their opening pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. These two batsmen were in terrific form in the Test series, but ever since the start of the ODIs, their form has gone missing. Rahane and Rohit will certainly be in some pressure to get big runs, as their No. 3 batsman Kohli, who too have had the similar workload, has been firing on all cylinders. Apart from chasing a delivery down the leg side, there is hardly anything that Kohli has done wrong in the ODI series so far. In the three games, he has been dismissed only once at Delhi in the second game for 9 runs. His scores of 85* and 154* provide ominous signs not only to New Zealand but also to England, who will be arriving in India shortly for a very long tour. No change can be expected in the Indian top three for the fourth ODI at Ranchi.

Middle-order: Dhoni s move to No. 4 in the previous match was not a masterstroke, since he is the most deserving of the batsmen in the Indian ranks to bat at the most coveted position in an ODI side. Dhoni s presence at that spot not only provides solidity to the batting order but also gives the venerable cricketer the chance to bat on for long, and at the same time keep going for the big strokes which he is known for. But Dhoni coming up in the batting order does expose the lower order in case there are too many wickets lost, and the inexperience of the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Pandey and even Mandeep (if selected) may have some impact. Hardik Pandya will also be expected to keep chipping in with runs, more so, build up further from where he left in the second ODI. At Delhi, the all-rounder batted with a lot of maturity to take India very close to a win, but his only effort to play in their air during his innings of 36 resulted in his dismissal.

Lower-order: Though India may like to stick to the winning combination which is what they have done in the last three ODIs there still are some opportunities to make changes. Jayant, the right-arm off-spinner who can also chip in with some runs, has been on the bench for far too long. He has been in the Indian side since their tour of Zimbabwe earlier this year and perhaps it is now time for the hosts to try him out. He can replace Akshar, who neither has been able to contain the batsmen with his spin nor has been able to chip in with crucial runs. Moreover, when India needed Akshar to hang around and contribute with some extremely crucial runs in the second ODI, he got lured into playing a big stroke off New Zealand part-timer Martin Guptill. Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra may retain their place, but India have the opportunity to try out Kulkarni in place of the right-arm fast bowler who has also impressed with his fielding skills.

For India, these last two ODIs will be as important as the three matches in the 50-over format which they have scheduled against England next year. These are the only last five matches for the Indian cricket team to sharpen themselves up for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, to be held in England mid next year. In order to make sure their preparations are up to the mark, India must try out their bench strength, and the absence of frontline bowlers such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and even Ishant Sharma gives them the opportunity to do so.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)