India aim to curb Kiwi high

The fourth ODI in Hamilton saw a twist in the New Zealand-India tale we have witnessed so far. While the turn of plot was bitter for India, the Kiwis were certainly delighted to get their first win of the series.

While one could argue the win came only in the absence of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, undoubtedly the most influential stalwarts in Team India’s recent rise to power in the cricketing world, credit should be given to the Kiwi bowling force that, owing to a memorable effort from Trent Boult, swung the match their way.

The Men in Blue will be eager to make up for their mistakes and the boxes they left unticked, as captain Rohit Sharma pointed out after the game. Meanwhile, Kane Williamson’s rejuvenated side will look to replicate its performance in the fifth and final match of the series.

Let us take a look at how the teams could be lined up on February 3 at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

From the Indian dressing room:

The match will not change the fate of the series, but India will look to cap it off on a positive note. The debacle in the previous game was not as much of an error on the tactical front as it was the case of the team not turning up.

After a far from memorable debut with only nine runs to his name, young Shubman Gill will be keen to capitalize on the opportunity in the Kiwi capital. Having played and won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand last year, the 19-year old will be acquainted with the conditions. The youngster will surely gain confidence looking back at the successful World Cup campaign where he was not only declared Player of the Series but also finished as the second highest run-scorer with an impressive 372 runs to his credit.

With MS Dhoni recovering from his hamstring injury, he will regain his spot in the playing XI. Interim wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik could be made to sit out as Dhoni will take his place behind the wickets again.

Khaleel Ahmed, who had failed to impress during India’s tour of Australia, was given the new ball in the fourth ODI. While he conceded over a run a ball in his three overs, the Blackcaps’ fleeting innings hardly gave him time to justify his place in the team. He could be given another chance to pair with Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the Westpac.

From the New Zealand dressing room:

For the first time in the series, the Blackcaps will be going into a match with momentum on their side. Despite the series defeat, the convincing show in Hamilton and its replication in the final match in Wellington will be a satisfactory outcome for the hosts.

A forced change for the Kiwis could come in the form of Martin Guptill who, as a result of a back injury sustained during a practice session, may have to be rested. The news brings Colin Munro back into the picture who was fulfilling his duties for Auckland at the Super Smash.

While their mainstay Ross Taylor has been among the runs in the latter half of the series, New Zealand will expect a change of form from their captain. Williamson, who has failed to get going after scoring 68 in the first ODI, will be as crucial as ever in building up the innings for the Blackcaps.

The Blackcaps could consider bringing in Doug Bracewell at the expense of Mitchell Santner given that the track at Westpac can offer assistance to swing bowling. This addition could further strengthen their bowling force that, courtesy of Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme, ripped apart the Indian batting in the fourth ODI; leaving Todd Astle as their lone spinner.

Team India will look to take advantage of New Zealand’s past record of three consecutive defeats at the Westpac, while the Kiwi side, finally finding its footing in the series, will be resolved to change the trend. The fifth and final ODI will start at 7:30 AM IST on February 3.