Making a foray into international cricket after a hiatus of two months are India and New Zealand who’ll be gearing up for the upcoming ODI Cricket World Cup with their first warm-up encounter on Saturday.
It's set to be an enthralling encounter between two wordclass sides who posses at their disposal a plethora of exceptional players lining up each department.
Despite the practice match being accorded the status of an unofficial encounter, the standards of cricket set to be dished up to us promise to be exhilarating.
The guidelines laid down for the warm-up match enable both sides to try out their full squad of 15 members as they try to nail down on the best possible combination ahead of the marquee tournament.
Considered as one of the frontrunners for the World Cup, the Indian contingent will be looking to announce themselves at the quadrennial tournament in the most befitting of ways with a comprehensive win against New Zealand.
They defeated the side in their own backyard by a colossal margin of 4-1 earlier this year in the five match ODI series.
It was a triumph that saw India put in a clinical performance to storm New Zealand’s castle and come away with an ODI series win for the first time since 2009.
As India look to continue from where they left off in February and put past them the unfortunate series loss to Australia at home, we look at the key battles which will shape the upcoming match.
Virat Kohli Vs Trent Boult
The mainstay of India’s batting, Virat Kohli was in exquisite touch when he played against New Zealand earlier this year.
He was consistent as ever in the three matches he played against the Black Caps, before he left for India reaffirming his sublime grace and exquisite shot selection.
However, in Trent Boult, Kohli will be up against one of the finest operators of the white ball in the 50-over format.
And India will be still having Boult’s exemplarily 5-21 spell in the fourth ODI fresh in their minds. It was a perfect exhibition of pure pace mixed with variations that blew apart India for a meagre 92 and handed them their only defeat of the series.
New Zealand will without a doubt look to deploy Boult the moment Kohli steps out in the middle. They know that Kohli has troubles against the inswinging, shorter pitched delivery target at his helmet and Boult posses the unique ability to keep pitching the ball persistently in the same area.
If he can pick up Kohli early on, New Zealand will have a big wicket in their bag. However, if Kohli settles into his groove on the batting friendly surface, his 611 runs in 11 ODIs this year speak enough about the kind of damage he can inflict on the opposition.
Kane Willamson Vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Having taken charge of India’s pace attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah when India went to New Zealand, Bhuvneshwar’s versatile abilities with the new ball were a sight to watch.
His spells of 2-25 and 2-46 were spectacles to behold, where he bowled at a restrictive line and length to form a deadly partnership with Shami.
Bhuvneshwar not only picked up wickets at regular intervals for India, but also sent Williamson packing as well in that particular series.
The New Zealand captain who was coming off an incredible series against Sri Lanka has ever since lost all his form, enduring a horrid time against India and in the IPL.
The unequivocal skill set that he possesses has failed to fruitfully come up with runs with the batsman struggling to cue the ball as he’s renowned to do.
Bhuvneshwar will once again be eyeing his chances up against Williamson. With the second pacer for the country still something to nail down, Bhuvneshwar knows the wicket of the New Zealand captain will massively bolster his chances of an assured spot.
Elsewhere, Williamson will be looking to regain his confidence with runs against a spearhead of the Indian bowling attack.
Ross Taylor Vs Mohammed Shami
His 90 against India in the third ODI of the five match series was the only reason that the country were able to put on some kind of a fight in that particular encounter.
Along with other good contributions during that series, Ross Taylor emerged as a player who could hold the fort for New Zealand in the middle-order and ensure that the other batsman revolve around it.
Taylor’s need to come up with runs in this edition of the World Cup becomes an ever more important proposition given the injury sustained to Tom Latham. It’s a middle-order that has become weaker, an unstable one that can collapse at any time.
However, he won’t find it easy playing Shami. With a stupendous 6 months of cricket under him, the pacer has reinvented himself, working massively on his bowling to emerge as a frontline choice in India’s pace trio.
His 3-41 against New Zealand in that same match saw him get Taylor to tentatively come out and fetch at an outswinging delivery, something he’ll be looking to use judiciously once again against the batsman.
ICC ODI Cricket World Cup Warm-Up Match, England Vs Australia
Date And Time: 25th May, Saturday- 3:00pm IST
Venue: Kennington Oval, London
Television: Star Sports 1, Hindi/HDPublished 25 May 2019, 13:58 IST