After Test series whitewash, India will want to end the tour on a high    IANS
After Test series whitewash, India will want to end the tour on a high IANS

With the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series levelled, India are all set to take on New Zealand for the series decider at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam. With the series evenly-poised after four matches, the final clash becomes all the more important for the hosts, especially after whitewashing the Kiwis in Test series. MS Dhoni and co. might have failed in the skipper s hometown, but captain cool will have all his strategies in place to entertain the Vizag crowd. Dhoni s deputy Kohli tried all he could to push the team after yet another failure by the opening batsmen. However, he was succumbed to the bowling expertise of New Zealand. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs New Zealand, 5th ODI at Vishakhapatnam

New Zealand, on the other hand, brought their best game forward and kept India on back foot at Ranchi with their all-round performance. New Zealand provided tough competition with their opening batsmen providing a fitting start. However, with the collapse of their openers, began the fall of the Kiwis as well. But they showed grit and fought back with the help of their bowlers, keeping India on backseat.

Indian batsmen, barring their usual limited-over specialists Kohli, Dhoni and Pandey, saw the lower-order s different tangent as they tried to bring the difference and push the force with the bat. This time around, the Visakhapatam crowd will want to see yet another Dhoni-Kohli combination and see the tri-colours flying around with pride. With Diwali around the corner, India can let their bat do the work of fire-cracker with a run-parade on Saturday. Since Jasprit Bumrah was unwell; Dhawal Kulkarni got an opportunity and was the only replacement to the side. So considering this will be an important clash, Dhoni is likely to go with an unchanged formula and here is the XI that he will field against New Zealand:

Top-Order: India will want to stick with their opening pair Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, give them another chance to prove the potential these batsmen possess in the limited-overs format. If given closer look at the scorecard of Rohit it has depleted as the time has progressed: 14, 15, 13 and 11. India will surely expect this limited-overs expert to fare better in the final ODI. Rahane, in hindsight, has been decent enough and put up a half-century in the last ODI. Dhoni will want these openers to provide fitting start that India has been lacking in this series.

If nothing goes well, there is this No. 3 batsman to make it all better and help his side chase to victory. Kohli has done it earlier and did it once again in the 3rd ODI with his century and in the process levelling the record with former batsman Sachin Tendulkar for most number of centuries batting second. Kohli might have not had the best outing at Ranchi, but the Kohli show is what the Visakhapatnam crowd is waiting for. Can he get another century and create world record going past Tendulkar?

Middle-Order: Dhoni is pretty happy to stay in No. 4; indeed the trick did its job when he scored 80 in the 3rd ODI. Knowing the havoc he can create in the middle, New Zealand need to be alert. Dhoni did mention that the finisher s role is toughest, but knowing he left an incomplete task in the previous match, he would wish to make up for it in the final ODI. Joining him along is Akshar Patel an all-rounder who can equally be devastating in the middle and was called up the order in the previous match, that worked wonders for India to an extent. He has not only shown signs of being a good batsman but also can be an excellent fielder. This combination of Dhoni and Akshar can break the barriers and could prove to be a new age partnership in making maybe in the final clash.

If there is any second finisher in the squad and his shown those qualities, it will definitely belong to Manish Pandey. In the last match he was called slightly lower the order, in order to bring more depth to the batting line-up. Pandey s finishing boundary in the third ODI and complementing Kohli during his race to 150, shows how calm and composed Pandey can be in pressure situations. The next batsman, Hardik Pandya has done pretty well on his ODI debut and has been the perfect answer for an all-rounder that India were waiting for. Although Kedar Jadhav was called up the order in the last match, finding Pandya back in his usual No. 7 spot will not be surprising. His fierce batting can be the missing element the team requires to push the middle-order.

Lower-Order & Bowling: Then India have the likes of yet another all-rounders in form of Jadhav and Amit Mishra. Jadhav has been good with the bat in crunch situations with his score of 41 in the second and also being the second highest wicket-taker for India so far in this series. Can he end this series on flying note? Mishra, has done his job in absence of India s regular spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He can bat decently in the lower middle-order and add those quick fire runs as witnessed alongside Akshar putting up partnership of 38 runs. As for the ball, he has been the best of the form and the highest wicket-taker with total of nine under his belt. India will definitely not want to tinker with this pair down the order.

Pandya impressed many with his perfect ODI debut grabbing three wickets and also duly being rewarded the Man of the Match. However, he will want to add that zing in the final clash and end it on a high note, shrugging off the amount of extras he gave away in the previous ODI. Dhawal Kulkarni also showed some stint with the bat and built a breaking partnership of 34 runs for the 10th wicket. He also grabbed a wicket, although he was smashed and conceded way too many runs. Umesh Yadav remains the spearhead of the pacers, with the knack of picking wicket right at the beginning. Yadav also showed some glimpses with the bat in this series, helping India provide those crucial runs.

India Likely XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Akshar Patel, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Amit Mishra, Dhawal Kulkarni and Umesh Yadav

(Shruti Hariharan is Content Writer with CricketCountry. You can follow her on Twitter at @Shruti_2890)