India will be playing a Five one day international series with New Zealand in New Zealand. If India wanted a dress rehearsal for the World Cup in England, this is the one. The pitch and overhead conditions will be similar to England. The ground sizes and the style of play will also be closer to what India will encounter in England. So, the cricket aficionados will watch these five games with a lot of interest. This series could tell us the second favorite for the World Cup, after the top favorite being England.
My mind races back to the series in New Zealand in 2003, that took place before the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. New Zealand thrashed India in both test and one day series. This series result was against the run of play, as India had come to New Zealand on the back of successful series in England and at home versus the West Indies. India are similarly placed going into New Zealand, this time as well. One does hope that NZ provide a tough test to India and one also hopes that India would emerge successful from it.
How do the teams stack up?
India Batting vs New Zealand Bowling
With Dhoni coming back to form, India seems to have solved their middle order batting problem. Dhoni, Rayudu, Kedar and Karthik are fitting in nicely as the middle order following the big guns in the top 3. New Zealand have a beautifully balanced bowling side: high-class seamers in Boult, Locki Fergusson and Southee, excellent spinners in Santner and Sodhi, allrounder in De Grandhomme
The clash of Indian Top 6 with New Zealand bowling will be a beauty. The top order of Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli will take on the seamers. Rohit’s weakness against left arm seamers, who can bend the ball back, will be tested. Dhawan looked a bit out of touch in the Australia ODIs. Hopefully, he will have regained his focus by now, for this seam attack will test his technique. Kohli is in the form of his life and one would expect him to tackle the challenge.
Mitchel Santner will test India’s top and middle order during the middle overs. Dhoni does not have a good record against left arm orthodox spinners. Santner will be a handful in the middle overs. Rayudu and Kedar will need to play the middle and late overs to move the game forward against spin and seam.
Vijay Shankar is untested and will have to prove his worth as the all-rounder in the series. Will he hold his position when Pandya returns is a question that will need to be answered.
New Zealand Batting vs Indian Bowling
This is another evenly matched duel. Martin Guptil, Colin Munro,Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will pose the greatest challenge to the Indian seam bowlers. Ross Taylor has been in a rich vein of form and will pose the greatest challenge along with Kane Williamson in the top order. However, Bhuvi has come back to form and will pose some questions to these batsmen. So will Shami, who is looking in ominous form after his successful stint in the red ball game.
The biggest challenge the Kiwi batsmen will face, will be from the Chahal-Kuldeep duo. However, the smallish ground will test the spin twins. We saw in the Adelaide oval, Kuldeep struggled to protect the short square boundaries. So, anything fraction short will go into the crowds.
India’s World Cup dress rehearsal starts in earnest with this tour of NZ. After the series against OZ, India seems to have found a reasonable combination in both batting and bowling. We will watch these upcoming games closely to find out how prepared everyone is for the mega event in England
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