With the series already sealed 3-0 and Virat Kohli rested for the remainder of the tour, India are likely to experiment with their playing XI. New Zealand, on the other hand, will have to dish out contingency plans ahead of the 2019 World Cup, as India have exposed the chinks in their armour.
The runs come in abundance when India bat first. When they don’t, they have to chase down a modest total – and they do so with several overs to spare.
The storyline may not change at Seddon Park, Hamilton. New Zealand chased down 285 in 49.2 overs against England the last time an ODI was played at the venue. The pitch is made for the batters to feast on the bowlers. However, you never know. If bowlers target right line and length, the batters will be forced to squander.
India have not put a foot wrong thus far. The game will ebb and flow only if New Zealand put up a good fight. If they do not, we will witness another one-sided contest.
Rohit Sharma was the highest run-scorer in ODIs against Australia. He is the second-highest run-scorer – 9 runs behind Shikhar Dhawan – in ODIs against New Zealand. After scoring a meagre 11 in the opening ODI, Rohit made amends and scored 87 and 62. We are not away from that big hundred.
Shikhar failed to make it big in the last game after scoring consecutive fifties. He edged a short and wide delivery which, on another day, would have landed in the stands. He needs to be careful with his shot selection, for hundreds have been eluding him for the same reason.
Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, and Dinesh Karthik have performed well whenever they were given a chance. Given Kohli is going back home, all three are likely to feature in the playing XI. However, if MS Dhoni does not recover for the fourth ODI, the 19-year-old Shubman Gill will make his debut.
New Zealand have problems aplenty. It is either Kane Williamson or Ross Taylor who rises up the occasion. They have been losing wickets at regular intervals. If they are to put India under pressure, they need to build partnerships and play well as a cohesive unit.
Openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro continue to struggle against Indian pacers, while Henry Nicholls has been throwing away his wicket at crucial junctures.
Dhoni missed an ODI only for the third time in his 13-year career. Not only did Karthik take 4 wickets behind the stumps but also scored an unbeaten run-a-ball 38.
Good news for New Zealand that Latham is among runs, scoring 51 off 64 on Monday. Along with Williamson and Taylor, he needs to lay foundation for the lower middle-order.
On his return, Hardik Pandya took a flying catch and two wickets. It was not the Pandya we know. He was calm and focussed.
Ravindra Jadeja and Vijay Shankar are likely to remain benched, as India do not want Pandya to miss out on any match practice. And there always is Jadhav, the man with a golden arm.
New Zealand will add James Neesham to the mix. He was brilliant with both bat and ball against Sri Lanka, and with Colin de Grandhomme not performing to his potential, New Zealand are in a dire need of a fast-bowling all-rounder.
Mitchell Santner thus far has been economical, a difficult task to perform against the Indian batters. He, nonetheless, has to up the ante with the bat.
Doug Bracewell has a fifty to his name in the series, something that the New Zealand openers haven’t achieved. Although he has taken a mere wicket, he has not conceded over 6 RPO.
India’s success has largely been scripted by their bowlers of late. Bhuvneshwar Kumar throttles the top-order batters with swing and Mohammad Shami rocks them with pace and bounce. Thanks to their discipline that India make early inroads.
Once the pace duo is done, the spinners – Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – continue the domination. While the pacers have taken 12 wickets between them, the spin pair has bagged 14 victims.
India may give a chance to Mohammad Siraj and Khaleel Ahmed.
New Zealand bowlers have performed exactly opposite. They have taken only 9 wickets in three matches compared to India’s 30. While Trent Boult has taken 4 wickets, Lockie Ferguson has claimed 3.
Given India’s strength, New Zealand are likely to replace leg-spinner Ish Sodhi with pacer Tim Southee.
Here are the probable XIs for both teams.
Probable XI for New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Henry Nicholls/James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Ish Sodhi/Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson/Matt Henry
Probable XI for India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Mohammad Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami/Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal
I was 0.5 credit points short when I chose the top batters and all-rounders and hence, I have to opt for Karthik over Latham.
Given India are going to make changes, they may play either Khaleel or Siraj. For now, I’ll risk adding Khaleel for his experience and skills. Pick your fantasy cricket team wisely.
My XI: Dinesh Karthik (wk), Kane Williamson (vc), Ross Taylor, Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, James Neesham, Tim Southee, Yuzvendra Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed