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India vs New Zealand: In-form Virat Kohli in focus as World No. 1 New Zealand face stern test in ODIs

India vs New Zealand: Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav have opportunities to audition for middle-order roles as India look to extend their dominant run at home in ODIs. The two teams meet in the first of a 3-match series in Hyderabad on Wednesday, January 18.

In Short

  • India take on New Zealand in the 1st of a 3-match ODI series on Wednesday
  • Virat Kohli will be looking to continue great run against New Zealand
  • World No. 1 New Zealand are without Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Tim Southee

PosterGuy: After steamrolling Sri Lanka, Rohit Sharma‘s India will look to dominate World No. 1 ODI side New Zealand who have arrived in India for a 3-match series, starting January 18 in Hyderabad. India have an envious home record, having not faced defeat in the ODI series at home since March 2019. The 2-time world champions would want that streak to extend as they head into the ODI World Cup at home later this year.

India began the New Year, outclassing a visiting Sri Lankan side as they bounced back from a 2-1 defeat in Bangladesh in December last year. A stiffer test against New Zealand will be the ideal platform to test their mettle and sharpen the areas which need work. For New Zealand, facing one of the powerhouses of world cricket without their ‘Big 3’ — Kane Williamson, Tim Southee, and Trent Boult would be the ideal test to assess their bench strength in the World Cup year.

IND v NZ, 1st ODI: Predicted XIs

New Zealand are heading to India after beating Pakistan 2-1 in January. It was also their first ODI series win in the sub-continent since 2008. And the young side, led by Tom Latham, will be hoping to spring a few surprises, taking a few lessons from Litton Das-led Bangladesh side.

India’s top-order looks sorted with Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma firing at the top and with double centurion Ishan Kishan waiting in the wings. A road back for Shikhar Dhawan looks tougher than ever.

The biggest positive from the series against Sri Lanka was Virat Kohli’s form as the former captain showcased glimpses of his vintage self, hitting 2 hundreds in 3 matches.

Kohli has scored 3 ODI hundreds in his last 4 innings, which is a deviation from his lean patch wherein he looked good but failed to stitch consistent knocks together.

Having broken Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most hundreds at home in ODIs, Kohli will be eyeing more records in the upcoming series against New Zealand, which is one of his favorite oppositions.

Kohli has amassed 1378 runs in 26 matches at an average of 59.91 and a strike rate of 94.64. He has hit 5 hundreds and 8 fifties against New Zealand in ODI cricket.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ISHAN, SURYA

Meanwhile, it is a fine opportunity for Ishan Kishan to audition for the wicketkeeper-batter’s role in the middle-order in KL Rahul’s absence. Ishan hit a double hundred in his last ODI knock (against Bangladesh in December 2022) but he was not picked for the ODIs against Sri Lanka.
While Shubman Gill seems to have cemented his spot at the top as Rohit’s opening partner, Ishan has an opportunity to prove his versatility and flexibility.

“Kishan will be batting in the middle order and I am glad he could get a run here after that fine knock in Bangladesh,” captain Rohit said on the eve of the ODI in Hyderabad.

Suryakumar Yadav, who is yet to live up to expectations in ODI cricket, will get another opportunity in the absence of Shreyas Iyer, who was ruled out due to a back injury. While Surya is unlikely to take Iyer’s place, a good series against New Zealand will help him be in the mix.

NO KUL-CHA?

On the other hand, India have plenty of options to choose from in the spin-bowling line-up despite the absence of Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja (injury).

While playing both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in ODIs for the first time since July 2021 is an option, Rohit hinted that the team is looking to lengthen their batting unit.

Washington Sundar or Shahbaz Ahmed is likely to pair up with one of the two wrist-spinners.

Shardul Thakur has also been brought back to the ODI squad, which also has vice-captain Hardik Pandya as the first-choice fast-bowling all-rounder.

“You want to play your best XI at the end of the day. Number eight and nine is going to be a challenge for us, someone who can bat at that point. That is why we got Shardul in, he can give us that edge at number eight,” Rohit said.

IND v NZ, 1st ODI SQUAD

India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wk), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, KS Bharat (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Rajat Patidar, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umran Malik.

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