New Zealand rarely go into an away series without a gameplan. When they toured South Africa for a two-Test series last year, they had a discernible strategy: use the bouncer frequently to scuff up the ball to produce reverse-swing earlier than usual. Against India in the Test series in 2016 CricTime , coach Mike Hesson stressed that their focus was on getting off strike to negate India’s spinners. Both those strategies worked to a degree, but didn’t translate into wins.
For this ODI series against India, New Zealand made room for an aggressive middle-order batsman, Colin Munro, to face the new ball, while pushing down a natural opener in Tom Latham to No. 5. The experiment was trialed in a warm-up game, with acceptable results. Free of error, they stuck with that plan in the first ODI in Mumbai. Although scratchy, Munro blunted a potent new-ball attack, and Latham’s technical efficiency – using his feet, the depth of the crease, and cross-batted strokes against spin – produced a match-winning hundred. Australia came into the ODI series with a formulaic plan, and New Zealand a flexible, horses-for-courses blueprint. Which one worked?
In the recent past, India have not been in a position where they have needed to win to force a decider. Their personnel did not fail in Mumbai, but were undone by New Zealand. Wristspinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were dealt with with incredible ease, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar weren’t penetrative, and their batsmen, apart from Virat Kohli, were kept in check. Against a confident team, India may just need to step up their own game a notch.
India: LWLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first) New Zealand: WLLLW
In the spotlight
In his last 10 ODI innings, Rohit Sharma has hit three fifties and three hundreds. Even in favourable batting conditions, that’s exceptional form. Maybe that made him a little complacent in the first ODI in Mumbai, where his innings of 20 ended with a heave across the line against Trent Boult. Rohit has built his ODI career around stability in the first half of an innings, and could switch back to that template in Pune.
Kane Williamson is New Zealand’s best batsman. He may have misread Kuldeep Yadav’s wrong’un in Mumbai, where he sliced a drive to cover, and this could mean a more watchful approach for the rest of the series. He has made only two hundreds in his last 37 ODI innings, but has struck 14 fifties in that period. Improving that conversion rate could just help New Zealand seal the series.
India are unlikely to change their XI, but could rejig the batting order, moving Dinesh Karthik up a position to No. 4, after a steady comeback innings in Mumbai.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni(wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
New Zealand, barring fitness issues, have no reason to tinker with their winning combination from the first game.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Tim Southee
Pitch and conditions
The last international match in Pune was a Test that didn’t last three days. The ODI, prior to that, saw 351 chased down by Kohli and Kedar Jadhav. Runs are usually freely available at this ground, especially with short boundaries. There is no chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
- Trent Boult has taken the most wickets in the first 10 overs of ODIs since January 2015 – 30 wickets in 42 innings.
- The previous instance of India losing successive home ODIs in a bilateral series was back in 2013, against Pakistan.
“We look at it (trailing 1-0) as a big challenge right now. New Zealand compete exceptionally well. It is a bigger challenge for us to come back”
India bowling coach Bharat Arun on India’s mindset
“We were lucky enough to be here last year, so we knew a little bit how India played and watching them against the Australian team, so lot of work was done in terms of spin and playing in the middle”
Tom Latham on how New Zealand prepared for the series: Source