India eye unassailable series lead

Match details

Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
January 28, Monday; 07:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

On paper, New Zealand are as good an ODI outfit as India: they have an experienced, balanced middle-order, quality opening batsmen and wicket-takers in the bowling attack. Yet, they have lost the first two ODIs of what we anticipated to be an exciting, closely-contested series by eight wickets and 90 runs. Surely, this is not how Kane Williamson and co. will have envisaged this series to play out, after the high of beating Sri Lanka at home, beating Pakistan in a Test series in the UAE late last year and having a feel-good factor about them.

Even if you give New Zealand the leeway that they are maybe a little rusty after a 12-day break between the conclusion of the Sri Lanka series (January 11) and the start of the series against India (January 23), who have probably benefited from being in a better playing rhythm following only a four-day interval between the conclusion of the 2-1 series win over Australia and the start of their penultimate ODI series before the Cricket World Cup, the batting implosions and poor team selections are unbecoming of a team with their quality.

One major positive to come out of the defeat in the second ODI was Doug Bracewell getting runs batting at No. 8, having bowled a decent spell with the ball. Given the pressure that comes with replacing an experienced campaigner like Tim Southee, Bracewell’s performance not only bodes well for his own future but also for New Zealand. Apart from Bracewell’s all-round effort, though, the Blackcaps don’t have another positive to come out of the second ODI defeat.

India appear to be on another level compared to New Zealand. MS Dhoni has regained his touch after a barren 2018 with the bat and Kedar Jadhav lends perfect balance to the team with his role as a finisher with the bat and the knack of picking wickets with his off-spin and unorthodox bowling action. India’s top three is arguably the most prolific in one-day cricket today and from New Zealand’s perspective, they must find a way to dismiss Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli cheaply to really give themselves a chance of winning the third ODI and beyond.

Yuzvendra Chahal is a bowler reborn after an extended time outside the playing 11. His partnership with Kuldeep Yadav is doing India wonders and New Zealand batsmen must combat the inherent wicket-taking threat presented by these two players. Lest we forget, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been incisive with the two new balls, as well, giving India two breakthroughs inside the first powerplay.

Bay Oval pitch report and weather forecast

The pitch for the second ODI was very good for batting. With another 100 overs of cricket to follow and just a day in between, you can expect the pitch to be a touch slower. Even so, the batsmen should enjoy batting on a pitch which offers true bounce and reasonable pace.

The forecast says that Monday will be clear and sunny with the temperature hovering in the 20s.

India vs New Zealand 3rd ODI playing 11

Possible New Zealand playing XI: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Mitchell Santner/Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Doug Bracewell, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Ish Sodhi

Possible India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 MS Dhoni (wk), 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 Ambati Rayudu, 7 Vijay Shankar, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Kuldeep Yadav

Match prediction

2-0 down, the onus is on New Zealand to better their performance, particularly as a batting unit, from the first two ODIs. India’s strengths are obvious and the Blackcaps must find a way to at least negate the effect India’s top three and their spin twins are capable of having.

Your opinion...