India looking to continue domination, New Zealand looking to spoil Festive mood

India vs New Zealand 2nd ODI Preview

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Dispirited Kiwis Up Against Rampaging India At The Kotla

One-day cricket does not seem to be enjoying prima donna status in India these days, with a Test-heavy season stealing the limelight and for a change, even influencing selectorial picks.

Already, `rested’ stars like R Ashwin have started talking up their preparations for the upcoming Test series against England.That leaves the ongoing India New Zealand ODIs to somehow careen to its natural conclusion, which many expect to be an overwhelming India win -no matter how many fringe players or overnight replacements or revamped bowling attacks MS Dhoni can throw at the increasingly hapless opposition.

The script isn’t set in stone ­ far from it -but winless, luckless New Zealand have been so poor on this trip and in these conditions so far, it has been easy to forget they are ranked a notch above India in the ODI rankings and are a formidable white-ball team.

It seems all the spirit was squeezed out of them during the Test losses, so fans can only pray for a decent contest heading into Thursday’s second ODI at the Ferozeshah Kotla, where India haven’t lost a game in this format for 11 years.

Some interesting subplots, however, demand closer inspection, notably the increased scrutiny on the batting form of both captains.

Inquisitions aren’t the norm in laidback New Zealand, but the team’s performances have shaken up NZC chief executive David White, who has been quoted in the Kiwi media as saying, “Our fans have higher expectations now. It’s a challenge for our guys, they need to turn it around and I know (coach) Mike Hesson and (captain) Kane Williamson are eager to do that.“

Williamson, in fact, has a poor ODI record in India, averaging just 23.40 compared to his overall 46.44, and captaincy issues also cropped up in Trent Boult’s interaction with the media. The leftarm pacer, looking to make his way back into the playing XI for this game, attributed the lack of zeal to the Brendon McCullum Effect, or rather the lack of it.

“In terms of how Brendon led the team both with the bat and captaincy, I don’t think anyone else would do that as well as he did. He set his own tone and we all know what kind of explosive batsman he was. Kane has had a pretty rough time walking into the role of captaincy and it’s a learning experience for him,“ was Boult’s surprisingly candid assessment.

The Kiwis might be in transition but MS Dhoni, who has been winning for years, too finds himself in a spot. Again, it’s not so much the captaincy ­ it’s a question of when, not if, he will yield the reins to Virat Kohli, whose remarkable rise has seen the Test team respond exceedingly well to a new brand of leadership ­ but batting issues.

Since his 92 not out against South Africa in Indore in October last year, Dhoni is yet to post a half-century in 9 innings. In 2016, he averages 17.83, and 37.75 since his retirement from Tests, in contrast to a career average of 51.08.

Averages tell only half the story for someone who bats lower down the order but Dhoni’s famed finishing skills have appeared to be on the wane for a while now. He has struggled to consistently finish games or up the belligerence quotient like he used to, prompting talk of a move up the order to No.4, where he averages 60.61.

India have also been grooming Manish Pandey for that same spot but coach Anil Kumble was cryptic in suggesting that could change.“MS has shown over the years he has enough capabilities as a batsman. In ODIs it’s not necessary to have certain fixed batting positions. We don’t need to look at giving him (Dhoni) time to settle in.You will see a different batting order depending on situations.“

With the Kiwis busy looking for their missing inner steel, Dhoni’s bat might find it easier to do the talking. As for Williamson, if his batsmen continue to gift wickets to the bowling of Kedar Jadhav, atonement might not come on this tour.

Team News

Suresh Raina has been ruled out of the second ODI too with viral fever, which should mean another chance for Kedar Jadhav. Hardik Pandya, after three wickets and the Man-of-the-Match award on debut, should get another go with the new ball.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Umesh Yadav

After resting for the first ODI, Matt Henry is ready to return to the XI. If it is a normal ODI pitch, Ish Sodhi should be the one making way for him.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Tom Latham, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson (capt.), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Corey Anderson, 6 Luke Ronchi (wk), 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Matt Henry

 

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