New Zealand eye victorious end to disappointing series

Match details

Westpac Stadium, Wellington
February 3, Sunday; 07:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

Considering it was an inconsequential match from the series’s perspective, New Zealand and India got what they wanted from the fourth ODI: the visiting team wanted to bat first (Rohit Sharma called it “a team strategy” at the toss, which he lost) to equip themselves for a similar situation should it arise in a crunch World Cup fixture and their being bowled out for 92 is essentially an experience they will accept. The home team, whose bowling attack had picked just nine Indian wickets in the first three ODIs combined, were able to restore some level of confidence, though Trent Boult was the only frontline bowler who stood out, his five-for shaping the course of the match. Opening the batting in one-day cricket for the first time, Henry Nicholls made an unbeaten 30 which was, if anything, good for his own confidence and he is an option for the team management going forward.

Tim Southee and Boult, in interviews to the host broadcaster and Star Sports respectively during and after the fourth ODI, expressed disappointment at losing the series and spoke of the ambition to finish the ODI series with a 3-2 scoreline. Given that the toss is uncontrollable, the focus will be on Martin Guptill to produce a substantial score. He has 47 runs in four innings this series and the moving ball has troubled him in three of the four matches.

Southee, another senior member of the squad, hasn’t played a part in this series after the first ODI. With the series lost, the ideal deal for New Zealand will be to have Guptill get himself a big score against a depleted but still a good Indian bowling attack, Southee to bowl a good spell for his own confidence, and a complete performance that instills further belief in the team after being hammered in the first three ODIs.

India will not mind if they get conditions similar to Hamilton. Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik, with their brilliant 77-run partnership in the third ODI, showed signs of establishing themselves in the Indian middle order for the World Cup. But the manner of their dismissals in the fourth ODI and the inability to recover India from the early losses of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit mean India are back to square one again with their fragile middle order. If MS Dhoni, who hasn’t played the third and fourth ODI because of a sore hamstring, is fit again, he may well return to the playing XI, in place of Rayudu or Karthik.

Wellington weather forecast and Westpac Stadium pitch report

A sunny, pleasant day is the forecast for Sunday, with a maximum of 22 degree Celsius.

Westpac Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium and uses a drop-in pitch which usually offers good pace and bounce, making it good for batting. The boundary is relatively smaller.

India vs New Zealand 5th ODI playing XI

Possible New Zealand playing XI: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Henry Nicholls, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 James Neesham/Tim Southee, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Mark Henry, 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/MS Dhoni, 6 Shubman Gill, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Khaleel Ahmed, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Mohammad Siraj

Match prediction

With the result of the series known, the focus will be on the players who haven’t had a good series so far and who especially are in the running for places in the World Cup squads.

Your opinion...