Seddon Park, Hamilton
January 31, Thursday; 07:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
Such has been India’s dominance across the batting, bowling and fielding departments so far this series that Virat Kohli’s absence may not make a difference in the last couple of ODIs. Back in September last year, India were without Virat Kohli for the Asia Cup, and Rohit Sharma proved himself (not that he had to) as a shrewd leader, leading India to the continental title. Of course, MS Dhoni’s experience will continue to have an effect on this group of players, and if the former captain returns to the playing XI (he was out of the third ODI with a sore hamstring), India will not lose much of their aura from the first three ODIs.
When New Zealand lost the first ODI by eight wickets, you might have wondered if it was just an eye-opener or a cause for concern. A week and two ODIs later, we can say that the Blackcaps have at least a couple of issues to address to bridge the gap between themselves and India, and, going into the World Cup, probably the No. 1-ranked England too.
The primary concern is the opening pair’s inability to get through the most testing phase of the innings: the first powerplay, particularly when you are up against a bowling pair like Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who get the ball to move in the air and off the surface. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro haven’t been able to curb their natural instincts and, in trying to drive on the up and hit through the line, they have been out caught behind the wicket and the moving ball has breached their defences on an occasion too. Whether New Zealand address this issue by at least replacing Munro remains to be seen, but this is a definite cause for concern.
The other major concern is their bowling attack’s inability to take wickets. In the first and third ODI, the bowlers weren’t been helped by the small-ish totals that India had to chase, but barring Trent Boult, who has managed to take wickets with the new and old ball (by bowling different lengths and using the short ball to good effect, particularly to Virat Kohli), Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell and the two spinners (Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner) have barely troubled the Indian batsmen.
Despite being 3-0 down, New Zealand have a lot to play for in the fourth and fifth ODI, which are two of only five ODIs left for the Blackcaps before the World Cup. They are bound to make changes to the playing 11, but how their batsmen counter the relentless threat posed by the Indian bowling attack and whether Boult and co. find penetration to pick wickets will be interesting to watch.
Seddon Park pitch report and weather forecast
The pitch at Seddon Park is likely to be good for batting. The boundary is smaller compared to Mount Maunganui and if the pitch offers good pace and bounce, you can expect a high-scoring match.
The forecast says that Thursday will be warm with a maximum temperature of 31 degree Celsius.
India vs New Zealand 4th ODI playing 11
Possible New Zealand playing XI: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Will Young/Colin Munro, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Todd Astle
Possible India playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Kedar Jadhav, 5 Dinesh Karthik, 6 MS Dhoni/Shubman Gill, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Khaleel Ahmed, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Mohammad Siraj
New Zealand haven’t been able to put India under pressure at any point in this series, primarily because with the bat they have lost two wickets inside the first powerplay and, with the ball, they have struggled to pick wickets. They must find a way to overcome this problem, to have a chance to getting on board in the series.