MCA Stadium, Pune
October 25, Wednesday; 13:30 IST
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The main picture
Before Sunday, only once before in this calendar year had India been comprehensively outplayed with both bat and ball in One-Day Internationals. New Zealand, though, with three of their key personnel delivering match-winning performances, simply outclassed their superior hosts in every department and have put themselves on the brink of history: winning the second ODI in Pune will give them their first bilateral ODI series win over India on Indian soil, in what is their sixth attempt. And, after witnessing their utterly dominant victory in Mumbai, do not rule out another strong Kiwi performance and their potentially being on the end of a series-clinching win in Pune.
From India’s perspective, they had an off-day, or so they might tell themselves. Their key personnel in the batting and bowling departments had forgettable days at the office and as a result, the ineffective India of 2016 and 2015, who tended to rely heavily on Virat Kohli the batsman and whose bowlers struggled to take wickets during the middle overs, were on view.
Having said so, a lot of credit has to go to the underdog, whose game-plan worked perfectly. They wrested control of the match by bowling well at the start and taking the vital wickets of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan and then, with the bat, by not giving wickets to the Indian spinners. Winning these crucial segments enabled them to beat India by a huge margin.
Tom Latham the batsman had a splendid tour of India in 2016 and going by his unbeaten, match-winning 103 on Sunday, he thrives in Indian conditions and against spin, in particular. Ross Taylor, who can be casual and hence give the feeling that he doesn’t quite value his wicket, continued his good form from the second practice match and along with Latham in a 200-run partnership, made the telling difference.
Trent Boult produced an astonishing spell (4/35 in 10 overs) of fast bowling to remind us of his being in the same category as Mohammad Amir and Mitchell Starc, among the potent left-arm pacers in world cricket today. This troika give New Zealand a formidable look indeed.
In addition to boasting the personnel who are capable of winning the key moments in a one-day match, the Blackcaps are well-prepared. And, through their complete, dominant display in Mumbai, Kane Williamson and co. have laid down the gauntlet to Virat Kohli and his men, who need to react strongly in what is a do-or-die match for them.
Ahead of this series, New Zealand altered their batting order to counter one of the home team’s bigger strengths (spin) and after a massive loss, India, you feel, have to adapt to counter their opponent’s threats. Meaning, they will probably have to make a couple of changes to their playing XI.
The pitch at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium for limited-overs matches has tended to be good for stroke play of late. Back in January this year, Team India successfully chased down the target of 356 against England, whose bowling attack, however, lacked the kind of incision that this New Zealand bowling attack is capable of producing. This venue is smaller and the captains have to get their angles and field placement right to stem the run flow and also pick wickets. The size of this ground is another reason why India should alter their playing XI and sacrifice one of the two wrist spinners. Wednesday’s forecast in Pune is for clear skies and sunny and pleasant weather, with the humidity predicted to be around 75%.
IND: LWLWW (last five ODIs, from left to right)
2nd ODI: India vs New Zealand playing XI
For the first time after the Champions Trophy Final, the Indian bowling attack lacked penetration and ideas. The spinners didn’t rise to the challenge posed by Latham and the three seamers unusually erred with their lines and lengths. While the make-up of the Indian playing XI is likely to remain the same, I expect Axar Patel, who is quicker through the air and doesn’t bowl the sweeping length, to replace Kuldeep Yadav, specifically to counter Latham employing the sweep. And in the batting department, Manish Pandey might replace Kedar Jadhav.
Possible India playing XI for the second ODI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, and 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
The visitors do not have a reason to alter their winning combination.
New Zealand likely playing 11: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Colin de Grandhomme, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Adam Milne, and 11 Trent Boult
One of the major features of Virat Kohli‘s India is their bounce-back ability. They have shown it on numerous occasions in every format and this is another test of their personality as much as a test of their skill. This crop of players is good enough to put behind a bad day and performance and come back strongly in the next one. New Zealand, though, have shown that they are a side with substance in the batting and bowling departments, and the question really is whether they are ruthless after a morale-boosting victory.
The captain who wins the toss is likely to opt to bowl first, considering the recent history of successful chases at this venue and how the first ODI panned out. If the conditions are good for batting, as expected, then obviously the team who bowl better will win the match.