After annihilating New Zealand 3-0 in the Test series, India take on New Zealand in 5-ODI series, with the first ODI at Dharamsala starting tomorrow. India has rested key members including, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, and brought in youngsters Jayant Yadav and Kedhar Jadhav into the squad. The core of India’s batting will rely on stalwarts like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, while MS Dhoni will return to take on the captaincy mantle from Virat Kohli.
New Zealand, on the other hand, finds themselves in a better position as compared to Tests, with the inclusion of Tim Southee and Corey Anderson strengthening their squad. They are currently ranked at number thee in the ODI rankings, one spot above India, and would look to redeem themselves in the shorter format. In the last five ODIs played between these two teams, New Zealand has won four games, while India has won just one.
So a day before the start of the ODI series, we, at SportsKeeda decided to ask our in-house cricket experts about their views on the scoreline of the series, the top run scorer, the highest wicket taker, and the player who will surprise everyone with his performance in the series.
I am going for a 4-1 win to India. As far as the top run-getter is concerned, I feel Ajinkya Rahane will take the honours since he has been in fine form in recent times, and also given the fact he gets to play more deliveries being an opener. For the highest wicket taker, I’ll go for the young Axar Patel, who New Zealand might find tough to deal with given their susceptibility against quality spin. Axar Patel’s performance will also surprise everyone and will allow him to make a case for himself for a permanent spot in India’s ODI squad. As for my expectations from the series, I just hope we don’t see batting paradises at the venues and find a good balance between bat and ball.
It’s going to be a fox vs cat contest. I am going for a closely contested series, with India winning 3-2. Kiwi skipper, Kane Williamson will score the highest number of runs in the series, while Trent Boult will take the highest wickets. Rohit Sharma will continue his fine form in the ODIs and will end up as the man of the series. I expect the young New Zealand spinner, Ish Sodhi, to surprise everyone with his performance with the ball.
After thrashing them in the Test series, India will look to emulate the result in the ODI series as well. It might not be easy though as India’s squad is a relatively inexperienced one, along with a few experienced players. New Zealand, on the other hand, have a full strength squad with the likes of Tim Southee and Corey Anderson back in the grind. Despite this, I feel India still have the upper hand as they have shown time and again when they play at home, and I predict India to defeat New Zealand 4-1 in the series.
Rohit Sharma has proved to be one of the most dangerous batsmen at home, and I feel he will be the top-scorer, while Jasprit Bumrah will be the top wicket getter in this series. It might come as a surprise to readers when I say that MS Dhoni will be the surprise performer in the series. He has not been on top of his game of late, and with the absence of key players, he will surely step up his game. We might even witness him coming up the order to bat, and that would bode well for the Indian team.
With a few mavericks rested, India have chosen to field an untested side for the first three ODIs against New Zealand. Now, they might have defeated the Kiwis in the Test series 3-0, but the NZ side with the white ball is an entirely different menace, one must remember. It was not for nothing that they reached the final of the 2015 World Cup.
As for India, while they have rested a few key members of the side such as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the batting core of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni is still intact, and given their recent form, I think Kohli would be the trump card for India.
Kohli's unbelievable numbers in T20 cricket warrant for some high expectations for sure, but whether he will be able to live up to them remains to be seen. Taking a look at his Test form, one is forced to give in to the fact that Kohli is in with every chance in the world to score the most the runs in the series and run away with the man of the series award.
As for the Indian bowlers, the trio of Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni and Jasprit Bumrah would be sharing the workload alongside Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav. While all of them barring Jayant are relatively experienced in ODI cricket, Kulkarni's form coupled with his performances in Australia with India 'A' where he was the team's highest wicket-taker make him a contender for the highest wicket-taker of the series.
Manish Pandey has earned his place on the side on the back of some magnificent performance, and I pick him as the surprise performer of the series. As for the scoreline, I expect NZ to pose a heavy challenge to the Indians, but do not think that they'll be able to clinch the series. It should be 3-2 in India's favour.
New Zealand has won 4 of their last 5 ODIs against India, and I expect the trend to continue, with New Zealand winning the series 3-2. Martin Guptill will go on to score the highest runs, while the slippery fast bowler, Matt Henry taking the highest wickets. Henry will also go on to bag a man of the series award. Ross Taylor, who was out of form during the Test series, will surprise everyone through some excellent batting displays.