INDvNZ: India needs a batting hero to regain lead

After a roller-coaster of a match in Delhi, balance has been restored in what was appearing to be a one-sided series. New Zealand has bounced back and rekindled the fast-diminishing competitive interest in the series.

This young Indian team has the confidence to regain its lead in the series. And skipper Dhoni and his deputy Kohli will need to lead the way.   -  PTI

After a roller-coaster of a match in Delhi, balance has been restored in what was appearing to be a one-sided series. New Zealand has bounced back and rekindled the fast-diminishing competitive interest in the series.

India is not necessarily the superior team. At home and playing on the minds of the Kiwis, particularly in the Test series, has made the host look far superior.

Hypothetically speaking, should the teams play in New Zealand next week, the same Indian squad will not start as the favourite. In home conditions, this Kiwi side can prove more than a handful for the Indians.

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It is also important to remember that India is not fielding its best available side. India’s decision to rest R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the first three ODIs has certainly worked in New Zealand’s favour.

So far, New Zealand batting has not fired on this tour. If Dharamshala saw the fall of seven wickets at 67, Delhi saw the Kiwis lose the last six wickets tumble in the space of 33 runs.

Given the inconsistency of the New Zealand batting, it is better off chasing. No doubt, the pitch at Mohali encourages the new-ball bowlers, but New Zealand will not complain if it gets to bat first.

With Kane Williamson and Tom Latham looking good with the bat, New Zealand will wish that Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor shake off their long run of modest scores.

The bowlers too are getting back their confidence. After all, in Delhi, barring for a brief spell, the New Zealand bowlers always had things under control.

The Kiwis never let India get away on the cruise mode while chasing a none-too-difficult target. All credit to the persistence of the visiting team for keeping its nerves when it mattered.

From the Indian perspective, the bowlers not only shone well in both matches but were also instrumental in taking the second ODI to the final over, where India was just one big shot away from coming out undefeated.

Much like Taylor, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni continues to search for form. Coming in when India faced crisis in Delhi, Dhoni took his time to score but did not make the job any easier for those who followed him.

Dhoni’s decision to come up the order will surely help groom a ‘finisher’ for the future. Hardik Pandya did bring the chase to a T20 match-situation but could not take India past the finish-line.

This young Indian team has the confidence to regain its lead in the series. Should the Indian top-order fire, the target is big. However, there is no firm word available from the Indian camp on Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina here.

Given the scenario, the match offers another big opportunity for Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav to shine. Going by the nature of the surface here, India has to find a batting hero on Sunday to nose ahead of New Zealand.

The teams:

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni and Mandeep Singh.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Bolt, Matt Henry, Anton Devcich and B.J. Walting.

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