As New Zealand gear up for the fourth ODI, with the series already out of contention, it is an opportunity for the hosts to save face against India. More importantly for the Kiwis, it is a chance to get their house in order with the World Cup fast approaching. But don’t expect excessive changes from New Zealand who, as per Mitchell Santner, need to get their execution of plans right.
New Zealand trail India 0-3 in the ODI series which is a reversal in fortunes after blanking Sri Lanka in their own backyard just a few weeks back. Rather than abandoning the plans coach Gary Stead and the team have implemented for the World Cup, Santner said he and his team-mates just need to bat and bowl better.
“I think the plans have been pretty solid – maybe the execution has been off at times,” Santner said on the eve of the fourth ODI. “If we can get two wickets in the top 10 [overs], or even the first five – if we can get into their middle order a bit earlier … every game they’ve got off to good starts, we haven’t seen much of their back end.”
“I guess the key for us is to keep taking wickets through the middle, keep being aggressive.”
At the top of the order, Indian pace duo of Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have given New Zealand little breathing room. To add to the troubles, they’ve taken wickets early which has allowed the spinners to breathe easier.
“With the bat, it’s trying to build those partnerships throughout,” Santner said. “We saw a good one between Ross [Taylor] and Tom [Latham] last game, then we lost a couple and we fell over a bit.”
“They’ve bowled very well in the top 10 and we haven’t really got away so if we can get through the first 10 [overs] with wickets in hand then set up the back-end where we’ve got some power hitters that we can get to a pretty good total.”
“They obviously hate getting out – just got to find ways to try and get wickets.”
Santner admitted New Zealand have been outplayed in all three games but believed the side were getting better.
“We are playing a very good side … I do think we’re not too far off.”
India will be without Virat Kohli for the last two ODI games and may be tempted to tinker further with the line-up over the next two dead-rubber outings.