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Kiwi’s top-four needs to fire as white-wash looms

Last updated on 23 Jan 2023 | 02:56 PM
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Kiwi’s top-four needs to fire as white-wash looms

New Zealand’s top-four batters have scored only 87 runs in two matches averaging just 10.9

The Black Caps' preparations for this year's World Cup has started hot and cold. After beating Pakistan in their backyard, they came with high hopes. But, beating India at home has always been a huge task for any visitor, and that has been pretty evident in this series.

The series is done and dusted for New Zealand with India taking an unassailable lead of 2-0. In any case, after putting up a valiant effort in the first ODI, they suffered a demoralizing defeat in the second encounter in Raipur. Now, they need something to cheer up and a consolatory win in the third would do them a world of good.

On the other hand, if India manage to white-wash the Black Caps, this will be the 16th time for them in this format. That isn’t all, if India win, they will also climb to the top of the rankings.

Things to watch out for

However, for that to happen, New Zealand's top-four batters need to come good. Throughout this series, their top-four batters have scored only 87 runs in eight innings, the highest score being 40. In these two matches, they have averaged only 10.9. In a bilateral series where they have played two or more matches, only once have they averaged less.

Among the four, all eyes will be on Finn Allen. After his success against Ireland and West Indies, his performance has been mediocre. But, in the last two series, there has been more decline. In five innings this year, three in Pakistan and two in India, he has scored only 95 runs averaging 19.0. In comparison, he averaged 38.7 in 2022 after batting 10 innings.

The series is not only about the white-wash for New Zealand. Since 2017, New Zealand have played 13 international games in India and won only two. To intensify it more, in the last eight matches, they haven’t had a win, the drawn game at Wankhede is their only salvation.

From India’s perspective, the third ODI is the perfect opportunity to try the likes of Kona Srikar Bharat. With the Border Gavaskar Trophy up next, in the absence of Rishabh Pant, in all likelihood, Bharat will be the glovesman. He is yet to make his international debut, and what better stage than this to give him some sort of experience.

Pitch and Conditions

The Holkar Stadium in Indore is one of the smallest venues in India. With small grounds and flatter wickets, no need to say more, it will be a run fest. In five matches played at this venue, South Africa in 2015, is the only team to post a total of below 290 in the first innings.

Tactical Nous

- Tom Latham has had a torrid time against pacers when they have bowled it on the back of a length. Both his dismissals in this series have come to pacers when they have bowled it on this length. In ODIs since 2022, he has averaged 20.8 with five dismissals against pacers from this length.

- Shubman Gill has been exceptional in ODIs since 2022, averaging 91.1. By looking at his average, one can conclude about his dream run. In this period, he has been dismissed 12 times in 17 innings and all his 12 dismissals have come against right-arm pacers. Against no other bowling type, he has a dismissal. To richen it up, against all of them, he has scored at a strike rate of above 100.

Team combinations

With this being a dead rubber, India might test out their bench, especially with Bharat. Umran Malik as well might feature in the XI instead of Shami or Siraj.

India Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan/KS Bharat (wk), Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami/Siraj/Umran Malik.

The same goes for New Zealand. Mark Chapman might play in place of Nicholls and one of Jacob Duffy or Doug Bracewell might feature in the XI instead of Blair Tickner.

New Zealand Probable XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Tom Latham (c & wk), Henry Nicholls/Mark Chapman, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner, Henry Shipley, Doug Bracewell/Jacob Duffy/Blair Tickner, Lockie Ferguson.

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