India vs New Zealand 2020, 1st ODI: Hosts yearn for elusive victory in series opener
Historically, New Zealand have always enjoyed a reputation of being fierce competitors. Once the Blackcaps gain the ascendancy in a match, opposition teams find recovery extremely difficult. When under pressure, the Kiwis are known to sniff at the tiniest opportunity, capitalize and take maximum advantage to create match-winning situations from thin air.
But their forgettable T20I whitewash against India has made all of these notions come crashing down. The Kiwis squandered favorable positions, bungled easy chases, and panicked in crunch moments to gift India a historic maiden series victory on New Zealand turf.
It just seemed like the Kiwis, rather uncharacteristically, had forgotten how to cross the finishing line.
While Kane Williamson's men looked rusty throughout, India oozed class. We've been accustomed to watching senior pros Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah spearhead India's juggernaut for years now, but what was heartening for the fans to see was the youngsters shouldering responsibility and getting the job done with tremendous composure.
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Be it KL Rahul's whirlwind knocks, Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer's impactful cameos or Shardul Thakur's death bowling proficiency, India's next-gen cricketers are making their presence felt.
New Zealand on the other hand face problems galore. Talisman Williamson is the latest casualty to join the bunch of injured players. Opener Martin Guptill has appeared a pale shadow of his former self and desperately needs some runs under his belt to regain confidence. And Colin de Grandhomme has struggled to put bat to ball, especially versus spin.
Though reinforcements like Mark Chapman, James Neesham and Henry Nicholls would strengthen the team's framework, and experienced campaigners Tom Latham and Ross Taylor would provide much-needed stability, New Zealand's batting arsenal still seems vulnerable.
Taking into account their mediocre bowling attack, the hosts certainly need to go out all guns blazing with the bat and post formidable targets, or else the writing will be on the wall. And they will also hope that while chasing, the batsmen can hold their nerve better.
The action shifts to Hamilton for the first one-day international. Can the change of format turn around New Zealand's fortunes, or will India's hegemony remain unchallenged?
Match Details: India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI
Venue: Seddon Park, Hamilton
Date and Time: Tuesday, February 5, 7:30 AM IST
What to expect: Expect runs and boundaries aplenty on the typical white-ball featherbed. The weirdly shaped ground dimensions and spontaneous breeze don't help the fielding side's cause either. If the weather gods stay kind, we're in for a treat.
India: Kohli has clearly stated that the management wants Rahul to bat in the middle-order and hence, Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw will open the innings in Rohit Sharma's absence. Kuldeep Yadav performed brilliantly against Australia and should retain his spot ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal.
Either of Navdeep Saini or Thakur will get the nod for the pacer's slot, though Saini is the favorite courtesy his sheer pace. Rishabh Pant will continue warming the bench as Rahul assumes the wicket-keeping duties.
Probable XI: Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini/ Shardul Thakur.
New Zealand: Hamish Bennett has impressed in whatever limited opportunities he's received and might feature ahead of Scott Kuggeleijn. Chapman walks into the XI as Williamson's replacement.
Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham(wk/c), Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Hamish Bennett, Ish Sodhi.
What they said
"Even in one-day cricket, we have had performances that we are not proud of and there's no hiding from it. We've spoken about it so many times. You certainly expect a young bunch of guys who are very fit and very, very good fielders to do the job for you in the field collectively and not just focus on batting or bowling.
It's about taking all three skills seriously and committing to it like bowling or batting. With fielding it's not a matter of execution or result immediately. Things can be taken for granted. That's something that we want to stay away from.
The team's heading in the right direction, whatever is lacking we need to be able to correct and move forward," Virat Kohli laid down the marker in the pre-match press conference.Published 04 Feb 2020, 13:38 IST