India v New Zealand 2016, First ODI: A New-looking Indian ODI Side Have a Point to Prove Against Dynamic New Zealanders

Virat Kohli‘s Indian Test team strengthened their position at the top of the ICC Test rankings by registering an emphatic 321-run victory in the Indore Test and whitewashing Kane Williamson’s men 3-0 in the Test series. The neutrals will be hoping to witness an even contest in the five-ODI series between MS Dhoni’s India and New Zealand, beginning with the Dharamsala ODI this Sunday. For reasons which we will be seeing over the course of this article, I do believe we have an exhilarating ODI series in store. 

Learn:

How the Indore Test Win Strengthened India’s Position as the No. 1 Test Side?

Match Venue, Date and Time

HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala | October 16th (Sunday), 2016 | 1:30 PM IST

The Main Picture (Dharamsala ODI)

Teams’ form

India: WWWWL (the most recent result first)
New Zealand: WLWWW (the most recent result first)

Despite being whitewashed 3-0 in the Test series, the Blackcaps were not overly poor like the South Africans were during their 2015 tour of India. New Zealand’s frontline batsmen let their team down throughout the Test series and Mitchell Santner’s all-round performances and Luke Ronchi’s batting exploits were the only major positives for New Zealand, who failed to end their quest for a first Test series win in India.

Read:

Why India’s 2015 Freedom Trophy Victory was not a Fluke and ‘Fully Deserved’?

Why We Can Expect New Zealand to Compete Better in the ODI Series?

New Zealand’s problem in the Test series was that they failed to capitalise on the good positions they kept getting themselves into.

In Kanpur, they were 1-152 at the start of the third day’s play but ended up being dismissed for 262 and thereby conceded a crucial 56-run lead; in the second Test at the Eden Gardens, New Zealand had India at 3-46 initially and 6-200 in the final session on day one, but the last four wickets for India added 116 runs to gain a psychological edge over New Zealand with yet another 300+ total; in Indore, again, India were in a spot of bother at 3-100, but the record 365-run partnership between Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane—who overtook India’s previous highest fourth wicket partnership of 353 between Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman in January 2004 at the SCG—put the Test match out of the Blackcaps’ reach.

The nature of pitches at the five ODI venues (Dharamsala, Delhi, Mohali, Ranchi, and Visakhapatnam) is unlikely to be a lot different from the slow turners that the New Zealand batsmen struggled on during the three Tests.

Learn: 

What Sort of Pitches Would Be Ideal for Test Matches in India?

However,

The 50-over format is such that the Martin Guptills and Ross Taylors will have the freedom to play freely and attack the Indian bowlers—something which they were largely unable to against Ravichandran Ashwin & co. in the three-Test series.

In addition,

The presence of Corey Anderson and the return of Tim Southee, who missed the Test series with a left ankle injury, to New Zealand’s ODI squad in time for the Dharamsala ODI and the nous this duo possess as a result of their IPL experience should be invaluable.

The visitors are well-stocked in the bowling department as well, with Trent Boult and Matt Henry being wicket-taking options themselves along with the spearhead of the New Zealand bowling attack, Southee. Ish Sodhi and Santner, the frontline spinners, should relish bowling on the tracks at the abovementioned quintet of venues, where the ball will turn, with the possibility of dew in the evenings being the only worry for the spinners from both the sides. 

Shifting focus,

When I saw the Indian ODI squad for the first three of the five-ODI series against New Zealand, I was slightly taken aback. India’s 15-man ODI squad has a fresh look to it, though the changes in personnel make sense. Shikhar Dhawan had fractured his left thumb in the Kolkata Test and due to his unavailability for the Dharamsala ODI and even the Delhi and Mohali one-dayers, Mandeep Singh, who was a part of the Indian squad for their tour of Zimbabwe in June, has been named as his replacement. Suresh Raina has come in for Ambati Rayudu, who too was a part of India’s 16-man squad for the tour of Zimbabwe in June 2016. All-rounder Hardik Pandya has replaced Rishi Dhawan from the same squad, too.

However,

With the eighth edition of the ICC Champions Trophy, to be played in England in June 2017, just a little under eight months away, the Indian selectors might want to have a look at what certain players can bring to the Indian ODI side and assess the ideal squad that they can pick for India’s ICC Champions Trophy defence in the same country where they won the title in 2013.

Learn:

Which Group are India in and which Other Teams are in Their Group?

That said, the likes of Raina, H Pandya and Amit Mishra will want to do well and seal their places in the Indian squad for the final two ODIs v New Zealand as well. This ostensible rotation by the Indian selectors now led by MSK Prasad, will keep the Raina-H Pandya-Mishra trio and many of their teammates, too, on their toes.

A fair bit of the spotlight will also be on India’s ODI and T20I skipper, MS Dhoni, who has not played much cricket in the lead-up to this Sunday’s Dharamsala ODI and needs to deliver as a captain and also as a batsman, with Kohli’s Indian Test team doing so well and racking up one Test series victory after another.

A related article you must read:

Has MS Dhoni Lost His Mojo as an International Skipper?

What will be interesting to see is the combination Dhoni goes in with, for the Dharamsala ODI and the second one-dayer in Delhi at least. With H Pandya’s reasonably reliable seam-ups, Dhoni can play just two quicks—with the primary question being who among Umesh Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni partners Jasprit Bumrah in India’s playing XI for the Dharamsala ODI—and two spinners (Axar Patel and Mishra), ideally.

India’s batting line-up is a strong one with Rohit Sharma and Kohli being the pillars around which the other batsmen will revolve. At which batting position does Dhoni slot himself, in this new-look Indian ODI side? Well… we’ll be having an answer in a short while.

Full Squads and Probable Playing XIs for the Dharamsala ODI

India’s ODI squad for the first three ODIs v New Zealand: MS Dhoni (C & WK), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Umesh Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Mandeep Singh, and Kedar Jadhav.

Some key questions…

Will Suresh Raina play the Dharamsala ODI?

After he was dropped for the ODI-leg of India’s tour of Australia 2016, Cricfooty reviewed the then Sandip Patil-led Indian Selection Committee’s decision to drop Raina. And, because Raina is making a comeback into the Indian ODI side, he will surely be under immense pressure, as aforementioned.

Learn:

Was Suresh Raina’s Omission from the Indian ODI Side for the Series Against Australia Justified?

As far as the Dharamsala ODI is concerned, he would have featured in India’s playing XI if not for the viral fever. In Indian conditions and with Dhoni’s penchant for part-time spinners who can give him four, five, or six overs during the middle phase of an ODI innings, Raina is indispensable and actually, his reliable part-time spinners put Raina ahead of Kedar Jadhav in the pecking order.

However, Raina’s absence from the Dharamsala ODI does open up a spot in the Indian middle order, for Jadhav or Mandeep Singh to come in. I just feel that Jadhav, because he is a more natural option in the middle order, will take Raina’s position in the engine room of India’s batting line-up for the Dharamsala ODI.

Will Manish Pandey play in Dharamsala?

Yes, he is likely to slot in at No. 4, a position below Kohli. But his batting position will depend on where Dhoni bats, as the Indian ODI skipper might walk in at No. 4 as well if he feels the game situation is right and in which case, Pandey might well bat at No. 6.

Learn:

Which is MS Dhoni’s Ideal Batting Position in ODIs?

Pandey was a part of the Indian squad for the tour of Zimbabwe in June but more importantly, he announced himself on the big stage with his match-winning 81-ball 104 in the final ODI against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), in January 2016. With India chasing a mammoth 331, a target which had never been achieved before Down Under, Pandey played a really mature innings for a player who was playing only his fourth ODI of his career and led India to a six-wicket victory.

India’s probable playing XI for the Dharamsala ODI: MS Dhoni (C & WK), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Dhawal Kulkarni, and Jasprit Bumrah.

New Zealand’s ODI squad for the series v India: Kane Williamson (C), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi (WK), BJ Watling (WK), Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Anton Devcich, and James Neesham.

New  Zealand’s probable playing XI for the Dharamsala ODI: Kane Williamson (C), Martin Guptill, Anton Devich, Luke Ronchi (WK), Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, and Ish Sodhi.

Weather Conditions and Pitch Nature

The weather forecast tells us that Sunday’s first ODI between India and New Zealand at the picturesque and the Cape Town (South Africa) and Queenstown (New Zealand)-equivalent Dharamsala, should have no interruptions, with an expected high temperature of 31 degrees celsius and a low of 17 degrees celsius.

The Dharamsala pitch for the ICC World Twenty20 (WT20) 2016 was on the slower side and resulted in low-scoring matches being played out. However, the day-night (ODI) and evening (T20I) games involving India have proved to be high-scoring affairs, with India and West Indies scoring an aggregate 601 runs in an ODI in 2014 and India and South Africa combinedly scoring 399 runs in a T20I last year. In last year’s T20I against India on Gandhi Jayanti, South Africa chased down the target of 200 they were set by India relatively easily.

With the cricket season in India just beginning, you can expect the pitch for this Sunday’s Dharamsala ODI to play well, providing good pace, even bounce and facilitating strokeplay. Under lights, the ball will probably swing and seam around and dew could kick in, as well, in the evening.

Should MS Dhoni Opt to Bat or Bowl First if He Wins the Toss Tomorrow?

Closing Thoughts

From the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 finalists’ viewpoint, if their batsmen can deliver the goods, there is no reason why they cannot push this new-look Indian ODI side all the way and potentially go on to win the five-ODI series against Dhoni’s devils. The prevalent quality and versatility in this New Zealand ODI side will test the Indian batsmen and bowlers. However, amid this stiff competition for places, you can expect the Indian players to raise their game by a couple of notches and also play with a lot of hunger and desire, thereby providing us with an intriguing cricket match on Sunday afternoon and beyond.

Discussion

First off, thank you heaps for reading this elaborate article, which was done with the intention of providing key insights ahead of Sunday’s Dharamsala ODI. 

Cricfooty would like to hear from you, the fans, cricket aficionados and Indian cricket worshippers, regarding this Sunday’s game and how you foresee it. If you have a question for discussion after reading this article, do post it in the comments section and we could have an interesting conversation. 

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