India vs New Zealand 2019: Battle of the Heavyweights
After the successful tour of Australia, Team India now embarks on a tour of New Zealand to play 5 ODIs and 3 T20I. The first of the five ODIs starts at Napier on Wednesday, the 23rd January 2019.
For India, the tour of New Zealand won’t be as effortless as Australia. India just can’t brush aside New Zealand in the same manner they enforced on a depleted Australia. The Indian players themselves know how difficult it would be to win a series against New Zealand in New Zealand.
To start with, India has an unsettled team composition. The absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya will be felt more in New Zealand than in Australia. Plus the poor form of players like Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu is not going to help India’s cause.
On the other hand, New Zealand is at its full strength with all main players available for selection. However, the one factor that would be in favour of the Indians is the wickets in New Zealand that are expected to be batsman-friendly. India has triumphed in the past in such scenarios. The batsman-friendly conditions would help India to mask its bowling weakness and prevail upon purely on the source of its batting might if Kohli wins the toss.
If the situation is reversed with bowler-friendly conditions, the Indian batsmen would find it difficult to complement the efforts of their bowlers. On the basis of the scores recorded in the recently concluded series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, one can safely say the batsmen from both the teams are going to determine the course of the upcoming series. Another factor in favour of Team India is their winning momentum.
From day one, New Zealand has been a team with very few match-winners who could combine together to play effectively as a team. That has been the secret behind New Zealand’s success in white-ball cricket and this series will be no different. However, there are some heavyweights from both the teams who will be pitted against each other in the forthcoming series. There will be battles within battles that would entice more attention to the series. This article is about the battle of such heavyweights in the series.
Battle of Heavyweights
#5 Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Tim Southee – The opening bowlers who open up matches
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has found form in the series against Australia. He took 8 wickets in 3 matches in the ODIs. He had a strong hold on the Australian captain Aaron Finch who failed to spot his in-swingers on all 3 occasions. 6 of Bhuvi’s 8 wickets were that of the Australian top order. In the second ODI at Adelaide, Bhuvi showed his skills as a death bowler and finished with 4 for 45.
Bhuvi would very well know the difference between bowling to an out-of-form opener and a make-shift opener to two totally different attacking opening batsmen. But the onus will be on him to make early inroads on the New Zealand batting line-up to steer the two best New Zealand batsmen early to the crease.
As the leader of the bowling attack, Kohli would be looking upon to Bhuvi to make a break-through every time he comes to the bowling crease.
Tim Southee’s job against the Indian batsmen is nonetheless facile. He is up against two destructive opening-batsmen in Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. Fortunately, he has his long term bowling partner Trent Boult by his side to apply equal pressure on the Indian batsmen. Like Bhuvi, Southee too is a terrific death bowler.
Both teams would be depending upon their premier fast bowlers to show their way in the series.