The Indian cricket team has been playing some unbelievable white-ball cricket since the conclusion of the ICC World Cup 2019.
India hasn’t lost a single limited-overs series and most importantly, has pocketed ODI series wins against West Indies (twice) and Australia. There is no doubt that Team India goes into the series as the overwhelming favorites.
Ahead of the series, Team India was served a blow in the form of Rohit Sharma, who suffered a calf injury and got ruled out from the rest of the tour. Mayank Agarwal was roped in as his replacement.
India is set to open with Mayank and Prithvi Shaw, which in turn will see KL Rahul bat at number five as the wicket-keeper batsman.
For the Kiwis, they will seek inspiration from the fact that they had defeated India in the ICC 2019 World Cup semi-final as well as the warm-up match played ahead of the coveted tourney held in England and Wales.
The Blackcaps are in a position of bother though. They are with our premier pacers, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson.
The issues arise further with skipper Kane Williamson being ruled out of the first two ODI matches with a shoulder injury he suffered during the third T20I against India last week. Tom Latham will be leading the side in his place.
There is an opportunity for several players to step up in this series and make a sound influence. Here are the key players in the fray.
Indian openers Mayank and Shaw will look to cash in
The injuries first to Shikhar Dhawan and now Rohit opened up the doors for Shaw and Mayank respectively. Both were seen playing for India A against New Zealand A recently. Notably, both players are set to make their ODI debuts and that’s a reason to be excited about.
It is a chance for these players to show they belong to the set-up and can be counted upon when Dhawan and Rohit aren’t around.
Since the absence of these two stalwarts is a big void for India to fill, Shaw and Mayank need to play their natural game. They have to take the attack to the opposition.
Shaw has been in the supreme form of late and showed his value in the unofficial ODIs against New Zealand A.
In four List A matches, he got scores of 150, 48, 2 and 55. With an average of 43.33 in List A cricket, Shaw has the potential to thrive. Meanwhile, Mayank will want to take his time and deliver the goods.
KL Rahul would look to be ready for the new role in ODIs
KL Rahul will bat at number five for the Indian cricket team as the management is keen to make use of him as a keeper batsman.
Against Australia in January 2020, Rahul showed his credentials at number five with a match-winning 80-run knock.
The upcoming ODIs against New Zealand is a chance for him to showcase his credentials as a versatile player in the ranks.
An opening batsman, Rahul was the cynosure of all eyes against NZ in the T20Is. He also showed his credentials in the T20Is and ODIs leading up to this series.
Most importantly, his wicket-keeping skills will be in focus. He is being backed as an option to provide more balance and if that metes out well, India has found a new solution in both T20Is and ODIs.
The in-form Rahul has scored 1,035 runs in 28 ODI innings. He has four hundred to his name.
Virat Kohli will aim to be supreme in the absence of Dhawan & Rohit
In the absence of ODI stalwarts Dhawan and Rohit, Indian skipper Kohli will have the onus of scoring heavily.
India’s main success has derived from these three players at the top. Kohli will aim to get the big scores and set an example.
His responsibility increases drastically and therefore, Kohli will need to take the offerings thrown at him and conquer the pitch. The second-highest run-scorer in the format in 2019, Kohli knows what to offer in a pivotal circumstance for Team India.
With 11,792 runs under his belt, the 31-year-old will have to channel his aggression and sensibility well to take charge. The star batsman is an ODI great and one expects him to come out unscathed.
Tom Latham can lift the Kiwis against India
Wicket-keeper batsman Tom Latham returns to the New Zealand set-up for the ODI series. The left-handed batsman’s presence can bolster the home side’s batting department.
New Zealand weren’t up to the task in terms of finishing off matches in the T20I series but Latham’s availability could solve that issue.
The southpaw has an incredible record against India in ODIs. The 27-year-old has featured in 13 ODI innings versus India where he has amassed 593 runs at an average of 53.91.
Latham has also registered one hundred and four fifties. The Indian bowlers will be wary of the threat Latham possesses.
He will need to be smart and aggressive at the same time while leading the side out in Williamson’s absence. His runs will help NZ and the idea will be to put more value on his wicket.
Hamish Bennett has a chance to show his credentials
32-year-old Hamish Bennett has experience riding on his shoulders. He has picked up 27 wickets in 16 ODIs so far. he was seen in the T20Is against India and did reasonably well. He claimed six scalps.
Bennett will need to be the strike bowler for New Zealand and his wicket-taking abilities are something Kiwis will need. In the absence of Boult, the right-arm pace bowler will look to cement his spot in the New Zealand pace-bowling attack with a fine performance against the Indian cricket team.
His economy-rate of 5.18 in ODIs shows his potential as a crucial bowler in the ranks.
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