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Regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Battle of survival for Kohli & boys

It’s a must-win game for Virat Kohli and his men to keep the ODI series alive against New Zealand

TT Bureau & Agencies Calcutta Published 07.02.20, 09:29 PM
Virat Kohli during the Twenty/20 cricket international between India and New Zealand in Wellington on Friday

Virat Kohli during the Twenty/20 cricket international between India and New Zealand in Wellington on Friday (AP)

For the first time in their ongoing tour of New Zealand, India might be under a bit of pressure before a match.

India take on the Black Caps in the second ODI of the three-match series in Auckland on Saturday. Having lost the first match, it’s a must-win game for Virat Kohli and his men if they are to keep the series alive.

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But while on paper it looks like that the pressure should be on India, practically there isn’t much for Kohli to worry.

Yes, India lost the opening ODI in Hamilton, but they lost only after scoring 347. This Indian team won’t lose everyday after scoring that many runs.

The batting, even without Rohit Sharma, looked in pink of health and Kohli can very much expect another domination show with the bat.

On the other hand, while it is true that the New Zealand batsmen did extremely well in chasing down a steep total, their batting line-up, without regular captain Kane Williamson, does not really command the same respect.

India’s Kohli and the in-form duo of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul, perhaps, possess a bigger threat.

Bowling wise too, it is New Zealand who look the weaker of the two attacks. The hosts are missing the injured trio of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry. Without them, the New Zealand attack lacks the bite.

The Indian bowlers did leak runs in the first match allowing the Black Caps to record their first win over the Kohlis since they landed in New Zealand. But led by Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian attack, which has been performing outstandingly for quite some time, can be trusted to make amends at Eden Park on Saturday.

Despite the loss, Kohli may go in with the same XI in a ground that is notorious for its short boundaries. But if changes are made, Yuzvendra Chahal may replace Kuldeep Yadav, while pacer Navdeep Saini may also get a look in.

India’s fielding woes

India’s fielding hasn’t been particularly good in the ongoing series, fielding coach R. Sridhar said on Friday.

Sridhar refused to blame tight schedules for the “downward curve” despite conceding that hectic travelling is affecting the side’s practice plans.

Sridhar said India’s fielding has, at best, been average in the last four months. He said fatigue could be a contributing factor to losses during this time period.

“...the West Indies series at home was somewhere we really dropped. We were average, to say the least. Definitely, we have not lived up to the standards as we did in the World Cup, or even in the build-up to the World Cup,” said Sridhar at a media conference. “It is a tight schedule but it is not a complaint and it is not an excuse at all. We need to be better.”

Ploy vs spin

New Zealand opener Martin Guptill said his team would look to pump up the aggression against the Indian spinners during the second ODI like they did in the first game, in Hamilton.

“It’s completely different conditions, isn’t it? You have to be a little bit more attacking here I guess and have the confidence that the ball will probably not spin past your edge as much. You know the odd one might as it did the other night,” he said.

“I thought the way we handled the Indian spinners in Hamilton was some of the best we have done in a long time.

So we can take confidence from that going forward in the series.”

Guptill also warned his side against complacency, saying they cannot afford to take a world-class team like India lightly. “I don’t think you can count India out. They are a world-class side, they have got match winners in batting and bowling. So, we still have to put up a very good performance to get another win under the belt and take the series,” he said.

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