Not a whole lot is riding on the line for the Indian team, given they have got the automatic qualification, one of the perks of being host. The same can’t be said about New Zealand, who have an opportunity to cement their place amongst the top five of the ongoing ODI Super League.
Having said that, India will treat this series very seriously, and will aim to give a section of players the opportunity to showcase their worth. The likes of Sanju Samson, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar are naturally going to return to the fore, in Auckland. Shikhar Dhawan will return to his familiar role as the captain of this young and energetic unit, with Rishabh Pant being his trusted ally.
New Zealand would also welcome back their skipper, Kane Williamson, who sat out the third T20I due to a pre-arranged medical appointment. Alongside Williamson, the BlackCaps would also be bolstered by the return of Tom Latham and Matt Henry, two integral players to this New Zealand setup in the 50-over format.
India have a Samson question in front of them
If you have watched any bit of international cricket over the past year, you would immediately know the value of Samson, and the gifts that he brings to this Indian setup. But somehow, the selectors have largely ignored him in the shortest format of the game. Can they afford to do that in the ODI scheme of things?
Truth be told, Samson has adapted to 50-over cricket like a duck to water. In his nine-innings ODI career, the right-hander averages a humongous 73.50, with a daunting strike-rate of 106.13. Since his debut, amongst the top ten nations, with a minimum of five innings, no middle-order batter averages more than Samson.
And if India do have both Samson and Pant in the same setup, it is a case of destruction, both against pace and spin, something that could benefit them in the longer run. The question for India is really straightforward, do they need the all-round option of Deepak Hooda or persist with the firepower of Samson?
In the longer run too, is it KL Rahul or Samson? This series might well give us the answer.
New Zealand will need Williamson to brush off rust
All that talks of Williamson’s strike-rate in T20Is, he is an indispensable part of the ODI setup for the BlackCaps. No one from the current setup understands conditions in India better than the right-hander, and with the World Cup in the sub-continent, New Zealand would want him to play as many games as possible.
Since the 2019 World Cup, Williamson has played just six ODIs, out of the 20 ODIs that they have played. His form too has been patchy in the shortest format, which is why his form will be vital in a format that suits him better. Williamson’s numbers too in the format since the final appearance at Lord’s are extremely patchy – 164 runs @ 27.33 and a strike-rate of 56.2 – which again puts the spotlight on him.
However, the BlackCaps will be bolstered by Latham’s return, who averages 49 and has scored 687 runs in the same time frame. With the pace of the game not as fast as the T20Is, Finn Allen too would be looking to take his time before going for the Hail Mary.
Chance for Arshdeep to stake his claim
Arshdeep Singh has absolutely bossed the T20I format, with his ability to swing the ball both ways up front and later york the batters to death. India have been on the lookout for quality left-arm speedsters but none have thus far, shown as much consistency and attitude as Arshdeep. He probably is already coveted to become one of India’s best bowlers in the white-ball format in the near future.
But he hasn’t yet made his ODI debut! Keep in mind, India don’t have either Prasidh Krishna or Mohammed Siraj. And with Kuldeep Sen too picked for the Bangladesh series, Arshdeep is the front-runner to be the third pacer in this Indian setup, and finally, a chance for him to make his debut.
Although he hasn’t played a great deal of 50-over cricket, his attitude in the Indian Premier League and then, for India, will definitely warrant him a place in the starting XI. The question is, can he take the opportunity with both his hands?
With no Jasprit Bumrah either, Arshdeep’s place is certain for the upcoming series. All that is left to be answered is whether he would be picked in the starting XI, come the 2023 ODI World Cup in India.
Team Combination and News
New Zealand have pretty much a set template in the ODI format, with the likes of Tom Latham and Matt Henry returning to the setup, having sat out for most part of the international cricket earlier in the year, in Australia. Ideally, New Zealand would want to test out both their spinners with the World Cup in India but with Michael Bracewell there, they may be tempted to give him a chance
New Zealand Probable XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Latham (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham/Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson
For India, there are a few questions, should they continue the winning team or tinker around in the search of adding another all-rounder in the setup? The solution for one being Samson, and for the other, Hooda. A tough call but perhaps, the most important of ones.
India Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav