After rain washed the game away in Hamilton, here we are in Christchurch, the scenic and picturesque Hagley Oval. Over the years though, the amount of ODIs here at the venue has diminished, with just one ODI being played over the last two years. But the focus is once again back on Hagley Oval, which is host to the decider.
"It's slightly frustrating," Gill said, in the aftermath of the second ODI being cancelled. Well, bad news for you Gill, it is going to continue, with heavy chances of rain affecting the encounter. While India still top the inconsequential ODI Super League, the hosts – New Zealand – have bagged some important points after their win in the first ODI.
So, naturally the focus shifts. India still have to treat this ODI very very seriously, given how there are plenty of selection calls for them, with the ODI World Cup looming largely in just a year. The Blackcaps will want to ensure that the unbeaten streak in home ODIs continues.
Where have India found themselves with Suryakumar?
In the aftermath of the second ODI, we all know the common consensus: Rain rain, please you go away. It not only took away the joy of watching a closely fought encounter between the two sides but also spoiled India's time of tinkering with their team combination. One name that has caught the eye thus, Suryakumar Yadav.
Suryakumar is a genius. Perhaps, the greatest T20I player that the game has ever seen. Perhaps, even second-best to just AB de Villiers when it comes to innovation but in ODIs, the Mumbaikar really hasn’t lit things up as effectively thus far. But what’s interesting is that the Indian team is persisting with him.
What’s the plan, India? In 14 innings, Suryakumar has 378 runs, an average of 34.36 in the longest white-ball format. His selection in the second ODI, accounted for India not having a place for Sanju Samson, who has been home in the 50-over format. Whilst he definitely has the game to succeed in the 50-over format, why are India mixing with formats yet again?
Even in the larger scheme of things, there can only be one spot available between him and KL Rahul, given that Hardik and Jadeja would walk into the setup right away. Are India taking the SKY experiment too seriously?
Whilst that is a big problem, India would also have an eye on Rishabh Pant. His form over the last two years in ODI cricket has been top-notch, and it would be wrong to say he has failed, it is a very tricky position for the selectors. If he does fail yet again in the series, would India then once again look at the bench, trying to fit both Rahul and SKY in the setup?
See, there are a lot of questions.
New Zealand would aim to keep their good run going
New Zealand have a streak ongoing in ODI cricket (not you Snapchat). Jokes aside, the Blackcaps ahead of the series had a few things that required a check against it, one was Kane Williamson’s form in the white-ball format. If the fast-paced T20Is has been an area of struggle for the Blackcaps’ skipper, he quickly put out all the doubt in the bigger brother format of that – the ODIs.
Whilst he hasn’t played a whole lot of ODIs, with his dodgy elbow, since the end of the 2019 ODI World Cup, with under a year for the next edition, Williamson sprung right into form, with a steady 94 off 98 deliveries. It was a knock where he never looked in doubt, and that’s perhaps the best sign for the BlackCaps.
But in Trent Boult’s absence, New Zealand do have some things to figure out. Or at least, they have been trying to figure it out. In Auckland, India breezed past the daunting challenge presented by the Kiwi bowlers. Maybe, there is a question to be asked, was it as daunting?
The answer being no. In the second ODI too, the pacers were breathing fire but only managed to pick up the solitary wicket of Shikhar Dhawan. So, the focus naturally would be on their pace attack, the trio of Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson, who would want to prove everyone wrong.
Team Combination and Predicted XI
New Zealand made a big call last game, when they decided to replace Adam Milne with Michael Bracewell. But you would think that is the right call, considering they have to keep an eye on next year’s World Cup as well. So, they might really stick with the same XI here too.
New Zealand XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (c), Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (wk), Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Michael Bracewell, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson.
Suryakumar Yadav or no Suryakumar Yadav? How do we fit in Sanju Samson? And that guy, Pant? India have some questions to answer. It would be a tricky selection call but maybe some hard calls need to be taken.
India XI: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal.