The third ODI between India and New Zealand will be played at the PCA IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali tomorrow, with both sides looking to go 2-1 up in the five-ODI series.
The Main Picture
At last on their 2016 tour of India, Kane Williamson’s men found a way to make the most of the “good positions” they kept getting themselves into time and again during the Delhi ODI, and win a game.
Getting into good positions and having India on the back foot have not been unusual for the Blackcaps, right from the start of the Test series. But the question, until the second ODI in Delhi, had remained whether New Zealand can go a step or two further and beat the hosts.
In Delhi, for example, they were 1-99 at the 17-over mark and most of us fancied them to post a total in the region of 300, doing which should have been quite easy with Williamson batting fluently and looking a class apart. The visitors fell away, though, unsurprisingly, as they mustered just 143 runs thereafter in the final 33 overs of their innings, and that, despite Williamson making 118 (128).
243 was a small target, keeping in mind that the defending side had to contend with the dew and also a relatively small Feroz Shah Kotla. Despite all those potential hindrances, the Blackcaps made a match of it, albeit I would say they were helped by some poor Indian batting, and ended up winning the Delhi ODI by six runs.
While Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni were embroiled in a 66-run partnership for the fifth wicket, the match seemed to be slipping out of the Kiwis’ reach, but Matt Henry took Jadhav’s wicket in the 32nd over and with India’s total at 139, to put his team on the front foot yet again.
New Zealand could not relax, though, while Dhoni was in the middle and looking to rediscover his touch with chasing down targets. In the last 12 months, India’s ODI and T20I skipper has failed on several occasions to take his team across the finishing line, as he so often has done over the course of his 280-match ODI and 73-match T20I careers.
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Williamson’s wizards were excellent on the field and their bowlers found ways to keep getting wickets, although, again, they were helped by poor batsmanship from the Indians. Hardik Pandya, who had enjoyed a dream ODI debut just four evenings back, had a great chance to win the Delhi ODI for India, with the bat this time, but a rush of blood from him when India needed 11 runs off eight balls sealed the game for the Kiwis.
There were a few positives for New Zealand from their six-run victory in Delhi, not least the confidence they are likely to have garnered from defending a small total (243) against an Indian side packed with batsmen who thrive on chasing down targets: Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and, as aforementioned, Dhoni.
Williamson goes into the Mohali ODI, the third of the five-ODI series, with runs behind him and will be looking to “build on” his eighth ODI century, to help New Zealand “build on” their win in Delhi and potentially take a 2-1 series lead.
New Zealand’s bowling looked a lot more potent with the return of Henry to the playing XI. And, as the fifth bowler, Anton Devcich did a pretty good job with the ball, stifling the Indian batsmen from scoring heavily against him in the nine overs he bowled.
Can New Zealand String Back-to-back Wins Now?
Despite winning in Delhi, New Zealand, if they are to realise their full potential before the end of this ODI series against India, need their batting line-up to come good.
Time and again on their tour of India so far, the visitors have been let down by their batsmen. The team management, though, will be particularly disappointed with the Martin Guptill-Ross Taylor duo, who have just not been able to score runs.
And, to follow up their win in Delhi with another win, in Mohali, the Blackcaps need their batsmen to come good. A total in the vicinity of 242 will just not be good enough because the pitch at the PCA IS Bindra Stadium is among the better batting pitches in the country, albeit by its own standards the Mohali pitch has slowed down in the last two-three years.
Let us not forget that New Zealand have been unlucky to not win even one of the five tosses so far on their tour of India 2016. And, losing the toss nearly cost the Blackcaps the match in Delhi, where the dew seemed quite heavy.
Dew is likely to be a factor in the Mohali ODI as well and though New Zealand cannot control the toss, they will have to bat well and as a unit who do not rely so heavily on their skipper.
By winning in Delhi, New Zealand will have also become aware of India’s frailties, in case they weren’t already. Without Kohli orchestrating a run-chase, India are a totally different proposition and the onus will once again be on the New Zealand bowlers to get the imperious Indian batsman cheaply, whether India bat first or second.
New Zealand’s bowling is their strength, and although the batsmen need to put up sizeable totals on the board, tomorrow’s marquee battle, as has been the case throughout New Zealand in India 2016, will be between the Indian batsmen against the Blackcaps’ bowlers. This theme is unlikely to change for the final three ODIs!
New Zealand’s Likely Playing XI for the Mohali ODI: Kane Williamson (C), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Anton Devcich, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, and Matt Henry.
I expect New Zealand to be unchanged from the Delhi ODI.
The challenge now for the Blackcaps, having registered their first victory of the ongoing tour of India, is stringing back-to-back wins. And the reasons I say so are because India’s poor batting contributed to New Zealand’s victory in the second ODI and a question mark remains over the Kiwi batsmen’s ability to put up competitive totals on the board. To win in Mohali on Sunday, New Zealand will need a team effort, but if they get it, the visitors could lay the foundation for going on and winning the ODI series against India, who have been poor in the ODI format, in particular, since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. And, with the series level at 1-1, the Mohali ODI becomes an important one for both teams.
To the reader,
How do you see the Mohali ODI playing out? Do you sense an Indian comeback or feel that the Blackcaps will continue their winning ways? Make use of the comments section below and give us your opinion.