Both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are back in the Indian squad while Dinesh Karthik made way for Kedar Jadhav the first ODI against New Zealand in Napier. Jadhav retained his spot after his performance in the final ODI against Australia last week in which he scored an unbeaten 61 off 57 balls to take India over the line. All-rounder Vijay Shankar finds a place in the squad while 19-year-old Shubman Gill has to wait for his international debut.
This is the first of 10 ODI matches that India play in the run-up to the 2019 World Cup in July. Karthik had expressed confidence about making it to the XI for the big tournament which means that the inclusion of Rayudu and Jadhav could be for testing the squad. After this series, India play Australia at home that before the World Cup.
Indian captain Virat Kohli was all praise for opposite number Kane Williamson and the New Zealand team. Williamson, on Tuesday, had won the ICC Spirit of Cricket award. “New Zealand are very competitive, they play in the right spirit, that’s why they’ve won the ICC spirit of cricket award, definitely a team everyone will look up to. Our motivation to play the game and win games for the country remains the same. I guess against New Zealand, you’re not going to have too many instances of players going at each other but we know they’ll be positive,” he said after the toss.
He said that the bowlers have played a much bigger role for India than the batsmen, especially in Test cricket. “It’s become a batsman’s game but we know as cricketers who wins you the Test matches and the crucial one-day games as well. We within the group always give them credit with batters being in the public eye all the time,” he said.
New Zealand, on the other hand, decided to bring in Mitchell Santner, who will be playing his first international in eight months following his recovery from surgery for his knee injury. “Mitch Santner comes back from injury, really exciting for him. Also, Doug Bracewell playing as well. Nice to have a seam-bowling allrounder in Bracewell, helps with our balance. We want to touch on all areas and keep improving. Fielding was something we didn’t think was on par in our last series, so it’s about improving all the time. We’re all looking forward to the series, will be played in the right spirit,” said Williamson.