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Focus on ODI World Cup

Despite the looming threat of rain, India and New Zealand will still turn up at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, hoping to put on a show
India captain Shikhar Dhawan (right) and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson with the ODI series trophy at Eden Park, Auckland, on Thursday.
India captain Shikhar Dhawan (right) and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson with the ODI series trophy at Eden Park, Auckland, on Thursday.
PTI Photo

Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 25.11.22, 04:41 AM

The disappointment of the T20 World Cup is still fresh in memory but such are the demands of the modern-day game that there’s no time to ponder and preparations have to begin for another showpiece event, the 50-over World Cup next year at home.

Despite the looming threat of rain, India and New Zealand will still turn up at the Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, hoping to put on a show. If India are playing a near second-string side, New Zealand will be without Martin Guptill, Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi.

New Zealand, the No.1- ranked ODI team, are sitting pretty on the Super League points table with 11 wins from 15 games. Kane Williamson is back after missing the third T20I because of a pre-arranged medical appointment and will be joined by Tom Latham in the middle order, and Matt Henry to bolster the pace attack.

It will be interesting to see how the impact-making Suryakumar Yadav adjusts to the ODI format. If he can produce the T20 magic, it will be easier for India in the absence of the heavyweights Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Shikhar Dhawan is the stand-in captain once again and will open the innings with Shubman Gill. The duo has three-century stands in eight ODIs. Another impressive impressive performance from Gill will enough to put him in the reckoning for a berth even when the big guns return. The opener has been in superb form in 50-overs cricket this year, scoring 530 runs at an average of 75.71 and a strike rate of 107.50.

Dhawan has been India’s most successful batter in ODIs since the 2019 World Cup with 1192 runs in 29 innings at a strike-rate of 83. Kohli follows next with 1042 runs in 24 innings at a strike-rate of 91.

The focus will be on Dhawan, who turns 37 next month, and his ability to keep pace with international cricket. “I don’t take anything for granted. It’s good that it keeps me on my toes,” he said on Thursday.

Given the paucity of ODIs, Dhawan doesn’t find it difficult to motivate him. “It totally depends on the individual,” said Dhawan. “I see it as a blessing because when I get time off I stay more fresh, stronger.

“When I was playing three formats, there was much more cricket. Now of course we have lots of players in different formats. It’s a challenge as well but I ensure to keep myself in that groove.”

The feasibility of the 50-over will again be tested in the three-match series though the presence of India will be enough to attract the crowd. Only a few days ago, Australia and England had to play in front of a record-low turnout at the MCG. But Williamson wants to wait and see.



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