At Hamilton, India probably missed a trick by leaving out Navdeep Saini. In hindsight, Saini’s extra pace could have been handy on a featherbed. Shardul Thakur tried his variations, but at his pace, batsmen were always comfortable coming on to the front foot.
As India and New Zealand play the second ODI in Auckland on Saturday, the Indian team management is expected to weigh up the possibilities of Saini’s inclusion.
This is how the playing XI could be in a win-or-bust contest for the visitors…
Prithvi Shaw: Got out after getting set in the first ODI. In Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan’s absence, this is a big opportunity for the youngster to present his case. Of course, Rohit and Dhawan would walk into the side when they are fit. But runs in the next two matches would make Shaw a ready backup.
Mayank Agarwal: The same applies to him.
Virat Kohli: The difference between a Kohli half-century and a Kohli hundred is that, when the skipper reaches three-figures and stays till the end, India usually win.
Shreyas Iyer: Scored his maiden ODI hundred in the last match and consolidated his position at No. 4. Iyer, however, would like to go at a better strike-rate, which he is capable of.
KL Rahul: In the form of his life, there could be an argument in his favour to open the innings. Kohli, however, is spot on with his judgment. Rohit and Dhawan are India’s first-choice openers, and post-Dhoni, India need solidity and class at No. 5. Rahul is a shoo-in.
Kedar Jadhav/Manish Pandey: Jadhav played at Hamilton and did well, scoring 26 not out off 15 balls at the death. But his utility reduces a bit if he is not bowling. Pandey batted beautifully in the T20Is. As a fielder, he is world-class.
Ravindra Jadeja: Was a bit unlucky in the last match. Kuldeep Yadav dropped Ross Taylor off his bowling and the veteran New Zealand batsman went to score a match-winning 109 not out. It’s always difficult for the spinners on smaller grounds. Jadeja’s bowling could be vital from India’s perspective.
Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal: Taylor and Tom Latham virtually swept Kuldeep out of the park in the last match. The chinaman bowler is going through an elongated form slump. Chahal could be his replacement at Auckland.
Navdeep Saini/Shardul Thakur: If the pitch is another belter, then India can do away with some extra lower-order batting cushion, picking an impact bowler like Saini instead.
Mohammed Shami: Conditions hardly favoured the bowlers in the first ODI. And it was one of those days, when the radar didn’t work properly for Shami, as he bowled six wides.
Jasprit Bumrah: Even on a highway-like pitch, he was the peak of the bowlers from either side. But Bumrah bowling nine wides wasn’t expected.
Kiwis expect backlash: India are very good at comebacks. The home ODI series win against Australia was a case in point. The win at Hamilton saw New Zealand end their eight-match losing streak in limited-overs cricket. But they should be ready for an Indian backlash at Auckland.
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