New openers vs Black Caps
India are expected to continue with their dominance in the ongoing tour of New Zealand when they take the field for the first ODI of the three-match series, in Hamilton on Wednesday.
India, in all probability, will go in with debutant openers — Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal — for the match with Rohit Sharma being ruled out for rest of the tour.
One has to wait and see if that turns out to be the weak link in Virat Kohli’s all-conquering team, but it’s a fact that the Black Caps will have to do much better than what they did in the T20I series.
Compounding the hosts’ problem, captain Kane Williamson has been ruled out of the first two ODIs owing to a left shoulder injury he sustained during the third T20I here. New Zealand will not only miss their regular captain, but also their best batsman. Tom Latham will lead the side in Williamson’s absence.
Speaking ahead of the match, India captain Kohli confirmed that the in-form KL Rahul will again play the role of wicketkeeper-batsman and will be batting in the middle order.
“Prithvi’s definitely going to start… KL will bat in the middle-order. We want him to get accustomed to that role and keep as well,” Kohli said.
Mayank was named as Rohit’s replacement in the ODI squad.
In the nets on Tuesday, Manish Pandey batted along with Kohli and Iyer, ahead of Shivam Dube, Rishabh Pant and Kedar Jadhav.
If Manish plays, the lower order will be a curious mix with Dube, Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja vying for the all-rounder’s spot.
The last time India and New Zealand met in the 50-over format, the Black Caps had knocked Kohli’s team out of the World Cup. It doesn’t seem though that the past would haunt the Indians.