India vs New Zealand, 4th ODI: Preview, predictions, likely XIs, pitch analysis
The Blackcaps' skipper Kane Williamson needs to fire. © AFP

Hosts New Zealand have the difficult task of stopping India from going up 4-0 when the two teams meet at Hamilton’s Seddon Park on Thursday for the fourth ODI.

Even though Virat Kohli has left the tour for a break, India – who will be led by Rohit Sharma in his 200th ODI – are the fancied team having sealed the series with two games to spare. (READ MORE: Rohit Sharma’s 200th ODI: His top five innings for India)

India likely XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shubman Gill, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal (READ MORE: Shubman Gill debut looms as New Zealand chase respectability)

With Kohli gone, India have a dilemma in who to bat at No 3. The 19-year-old sensation Gill is in the squad, but is unlikely to travel to the World Cup. India’s reserve batsman at the World Cup will be Dinesh Karthik, so if MS Dhoni is fit to play the fourth ODI then there is a strong case for Karthik to play as a batsman. But will India want to send him at No 3, a spot where he has batted just seven times in 76 ODI innings and definite will not bat during the World Cup.

Shubman Gill was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 U-19 World Cup.
Shubman Gill was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 U-19 World Cup. © AFP

New Zealand likely XI: 1 Colin Munro, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Jimmy Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Todd Astle, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult

Colin Munro has scores of 13, 87, 21, 8, 31 and 7 this year in ODIs, and in 2018 he averaged 19.53 in 13 innings. New Zealand’s coach Gary Stead says that he won’t drop any of the team’s struggling players, which indicates that Munro will get another chance.

Jimmy Neesham and Todd Astle were added to the Blackcaps’ squad for the fourth and fifth ODIs, replacing Doug Bracewell and Ish Sodhi. Neesham will slot back in after missing the last three games due to injury, and given his fine all-round form against Sri Lanka earlier this month he will add solid depth. Astle, who was sent back from the UAE in September with an injury, should play in Sodhi’s place for his first ODI since January 2013.

Jimmy Neesham is back from injury.
Jimmy Neesham is back from injury. © AFP

Pitch and conditions: Seddon Park has a reputation of being high-scoring. Totals in excess of 300 have been achieved on four occasions, with West Indies putting up 363/4 as the highest score there. There is a ten percent chance of rain, with temperatures expected to range between 29 and 16°C in Hamilton.

A year ago, New Zealand chased 285 to beat England.

Prediction: Beating Sri Lanka 3-0 this month kept the Blackcaps at No 3 in the ICC ODI rankings, but now they face a battle to stop India from moving to within one point of top-ranked England. Not since 2005 have New Zealand lost four consecutive ODIs at home. Even with Kohli gone, it will take something drastic to prevent a fourth loss to India.