India played their first ODI in 1976 under the captaincy of Bishan Bedi. As fate would have it, New Zealand blanked India 2-0. India travelled the trans-Tasman nation five years later and were yet again at the doorstep of defeat. In fact, India had to wait for another decade to register their first ODI win in New Zealand: the victory came by a narrow margin of 1 run, thanks to Kapil Dev’s last-over heroics.
However, winning a series was still an uphill task. From Bedi to Sunil Gavaskar to Mohammad Azharuddin to Sourav Ganguly, no Indian captain could do what MS Dhoni did in 2009: India beat New Zealand 3-1 in a five-ODI series – their first ODI series win and the only one thus far. Dhoni was at the helm yet again in the 2013-14 series but came back winless.
Tom Latham, who was rested for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, is back to the squad. New Zealand have also drafted in all-rounder Mitchell Santner to add variety to their bowling unit.
India had replaced Hardik Pandya with Vijay Shankar as a like-for-like replacement. While Shankar has travelled to New Zealand as well, Shubman Gill has joined the team at the expense of KL Rahul.
Let’s dish out the best XI for our fantasy cricket team.
My XI: MS Dhoni (wk), Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor (c), Kedar Jadhav, Mitchell Santner, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohmmad Shami (vc), Trent Boult, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
My XI is built on the basis of form as well as top performances at McLean Park, Napier.
Before the Australia series, there were talks of dropping Dhoni for Rishabh Pant – or, for that matter, anyone who is not Dhoni. As the series concluded, Dhoni ended up receiving the Man of the Series award. He scored 193 runs, including 3 half-centuries.
Tom Latham too has been in good form. He has top scores of 264* and 176 in his last two Tests, against Sri Lanka last month. Adding more to his recent achievements, he smashed 110 in a domestic T20 match last Saturday.
We have gone for two batters each from India and New Zealand.
Rohit and Kohli are our obvious choices. While Kohli has been accumulating runs across formats, limited-overs is Rohit’s specialty. The captain and his deputy are menacing when they fire on all cylinders. That they scored massive hundreds in ODIs against Australia makes matters more interesting.
Sitting atop ICC ODI Rankings for batters is, of course, Kohli. At the second spot is Rohit. Any guesses who is at No. 3? Ross Taylor.
So magnificent has been Taylor that his last 10 ODI innings read: 1, 59, 113, 1, 181*, 80, 86*, 54, 90, 137. In case you think of making him the captain, let me tell you that he has three hundreds at this venue.
Another New Zealander who is a must pick for our fantasy team is Williamson. The captain fantastic has collected 733 runs in 18 ODIs against India, including a hundred.
Alternatives: Shikhar Dhawan, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ambati Rayudu, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik
The fantasy players know the importance of Kedar Jadhav. In the third ODI against Australia last week, when India needed 1, Jadhav hit a boundary.
The fantasy players, who were slightly ahead in the race because of Dhoni’s inclusion, took a hit. They would have still won it had Jadhav took a single. He instead hit a four and the players who had chosen him – as captain or vice-captain – got a bonus point for a four. In addition to this, Jadhav is a handy off-spinner. His round-arm action often fools the best of batters.
Another useful player is Santner. He ranks fifth in ICC ODI Rankings for all-rounders. Unlike Jadhav, Santner isn’t a part-time bowler: such are his skills that he gets to bowl out his 10-over quota. With the bat, he averages 28.5 and can chip in runs when needed.
Alternatives: Ravindra Jadeja, Colin de Grandhomme, Vijay Shankar
India preferred Chahal over Kuldeep Yadav and the rest is history. His 6 for 42 is the joint-best bowling figures by an Indian in Australia. No doubt he will get a nod in New Zealand.
The reason we have added Shami is that he was the highest wicket-taker for India in their previous tour to New Zealand. We will also draft in Bhuvi, who took 8 wickets against Australia in three ODIs.
We have got 9 points in our kit, and at that price, the top buy is the lightening Boult.
Alternatives: Kuldeep Yadav, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammad Siraj
Here are the probable XI for both teams in case you are looking for other options.
Probable XI for New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tom Latham (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi
Probable XI for India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal
The average scores in the first and second innings read 244 and 203 at McLean Park Napier. While the highest score reads 373/8, the lowest reads 126.
There are chances of rain on Tuesday and it may dampen the outfield, but it is likely to be sunny on the match day.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson(c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor
India: Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, K Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill