Run-filled Bay Oval not a concern for India, insists Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan scored an unbeaten 75 in the first ODI. (AFP Image)

The second ODI between India and New Zealand in Mount Maunganui is expected to be a run-fest, but Shikhar Dhawan insists his team is not dwelling much over the fact that more than 600 runs were scored in each of the previous two games played at the venue.

It wasn’t too long ago that New Zealand and Sri Lanka faced each other in consecutive one-day internationals at the Bay Oval. In the opening game of the series, New Zealand batted first and scored 371/7 led by Martin Guptill‘s 138 and Sri Lanka responded with 326. The next match was no different with Ross Taylor‘s 90 driving New Zealand to 319/7 and Sri Lanka coming close to giving the hosts a scare with 298 – courtesy a blazing 140 from allrounder Thisara Perera. Combined, these two matches produced over 1300 runs

And while a similar pattern is expected for Saturday’s encounter, Dhawan reckoned India would want to give the deck a look before arriving to any conclusions.

“We’ve seen the history about the ground – what the average score is over there. But at the same time, we make it a point to see the pitch as well,” Dhawan said on the eve of the second ODI on Friday. “Only then we can get a good sense of it, and possibly think of a target that we can set. Sometimes, even though the pitch plays well, it’s not enough. Like in the first game, the surface was good to bat on, but because of the start which we got and the pressure we built on New Zealand, is why we could restrict them to a low total.”

New Zealand opted to bat in the first ODI in Napier, but India bowled extremely well to strike regularly. Result: New Zealand were bowled out for 157 with wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal combining to take six wickets, aided by Mohammed Shami’s disciplined returns of 6/19 from six overs.

In reply, India were off to a fine start with Dhawan and Rohit Sharma putting on 41 runs for the opening wicket. New Zealand struck second ball after the dinner break but before they could spring a surprise, Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli added 91 runs for the second wicket to put India’s chase on track.

Dhawan weighed in on the experience of batting with the India captain, and how the combined experience of India’s top three is proving beneficial for the No. 2-ranked ODI side in the world.

“It’s very good. We have been playing since a long time so it’s normal for us,” Dhawan said about batting with Kohli. “The good thing about batting with Virat is that with him, we rotate the strike well and that keeps the pressure off. And of course, if someone is scoring boundaries from one end, it gets easier for the other batsman. Our top three has played so much cricket together – 115 matches. So it’s routine stuff.”

The India opener stressed on the importance of good competition within the team. As evident from the last two matches which India played – the third ODI against Australia and the first one-day international against New Zealand – players are battling hard to make it to the squad that goes to England for the World Cup. Yuzvendra Chahal took eight wickets in the two games, while Kedar Jadhav struck an unbeaten half-century to guide India home

“Competition is always there in our side. If you see, even when the youngsters have come in, all of them have been performing very good. They are maturing very quickly; that way it creates a lot of competition in the team and everyone must be on their toes. At the same time, our team has been performing very well. Example – The way Prithvi Shaw came in the team and scored, it shows that our bench strength is very good and the competition is high,” Dhawan said.