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INDvNZ 1st ODI: Navdeep Saini, not Shardul Thakur, should play

On a roll, India will like to maintain their winning habit in the three-match ODI series against New Zealand. The series commences at Hamilton on Wednesday and the visitors will have to rejig their opening combination in Rohit Sharma’s absence – out of the tour due to a calf muscle injury. Here’s a low-down on the likely starting XI...

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: February 4, 2020 5:00:36 pm
INDvNZ 1st ODI, INDvNZ 1st ODI playing XI, Express Playing XI, INDvNZ Playing XI, Indian Express Playing XI, Navdeep Saini in ODIs, Shardul Thakur in Playing XI India to face New Zealand in the first ODI on Wednesday.

Prithvi Shaw: After a season of upheaval, the 20-year-old is back to the fold, set to make his ODI debut tomorrow. A 150 for India A against New Zealand A at Lincoln last month will be his currency. His experience of opening the innings for Delhi Capitals in the IPL should help.

Mayank Agarwal: A late entrant to the ODI squad as Rohit’s replacement. You can’t replace the irreplaceable, but Agarwal replicating his Test form in the shorter format will serve India well. Like Shaw, the Karnataka opener, too, is in line for his ODI debut and he has the ability to raise his game on the big stage. By the way, skipper Virat Kohli has confirmed that Shaw and Agarwal will open, while KL Rahul will bat at No. 5.

Virat Kohli: Nothing needs to be said. If he grabs the game by the lapels, the Kiwis will suffer.

Shreyas Iyer: Bedding in as the team’s No. 4. The knocks he played under pressure in the first two T20Is in the recently concluded series attested his impact. Iyer, though, has a tendency to get a bit carried away at times. A good ODI series will cement his place.

KL Rahul: Back to his top form, Rahul at No. 5 adds solidity and class to the middle-order. Will keep wickets, for unlike Rishabh Pant, he has inspired confidence.

Navdeep Saini is also a very decent batsman down the order. Still, Saini probably has his nose in front.

Manish Pandey: Over the last five white-ball knocks, he is yet to be dismissed. Always a very talented player, Pandey’s shot selection is now better. As a fielder, he is an asset.

Ravindra Jadeja: Arguably the most important member in the lower-middle-order in terms of providing the balance.

Kuldeep Yadav: Likely to edge Yuzvendra Chahal.

Navdeep Saini: The last ODI that India played, against Australia in Bangalore last month, Saini featured in the XI. He is a wicket-taking bowler. His pace gives him the cutting edge. Thakur, on the other hand, is basically a swing bowler. In New Zealand, conditions might help him. Also, he is a very decent batsman down the order. Still, Saini probably has his nose in front.

Mohammed Shami: His improvement in limited-overs cricket of late is so significant that at the moment he picks himself.

Jasprit Bumrah: He was back to his best towards the back-end of the T20I series. The team’s most valuable player, bowling-wise.

The Pant conundrum: Even in the two T20I dead rubbers, Sanju Samson had been the preferred choice of the team management. Rahul keeping wickets has given the side a more balanced look. As for Pant, time might not be running out because he is just 22 years old. But the youngster no longer has the licence to fail, when he gets his next opportunity.

Kane’s not able: That Kane Williamson will miss the first two ODIs – nursing a shoulder injury – is a big blow to the hosts. Unlike India, they don’t have a vast talent pool to choose from. Mark Chapman is Williamson’s replacement. Probably the biggest challenge for New Zealand will be to get over the T20I disappointment, where thrice on the spin they had snatched defeats from the jaws of victory.

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