IND vs NZ 2022-23, Christchurch ODI: With rain threat looming, India prays for full game to square series
IND vs NZ 2022-23: India and New Zealand will face off in the final Christchurch ODI on Wednesday. While there is a rain threat again, the visitors would be hoping for a complete contest to square the series.
Frustrated by the fickle weather, a desperate Indian team would pray for a rain-free third and final One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand in its bid to finish on an even keel in a series that neither had context nor any significant takeaways. There is a forecast of scattered showers in Christchurch, and nothing can be more irritating than playing a series where the Gen-Next of Indian cricket hardly got any game time to show their prowess. Out of five white-ball games that include a three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series, two matches (one T20I and one ODI) didn't yield any result, and one game (T20I) was curtailed significantly and ended in a tie due to Duckworth-Lewis (DLS) method.
With the series in line, stand-in skipper Shikhar Dhawan and his men would aim to put up an impactful performance at the picturesque Hagley Oval ground, which has traditionally helped the seam bowlers and has an average score in the 230 range in the past few years. The Indian batting in the first PowerPlay (first ten overs) has been much discussed. Even though skipper Dhawan has been a prolific ODI opener over the years, even he understands that to secure his place for the next ICC World Cup, his approach needs a sea change.
However, Dhawan's young opening partner Shubman Gill has shown more intent in shot selection, with scores of 50 and 45 not out in the two games. So has Indian cricket's current blue-eyed boy Suryakumar Yadav, whose three sixes in a short 12.5 overs of play at the Seddon Park in Hamilton did send the Indian supporters into raptures.
But, the more significant challenge for the Indian batting line-up will be to put up an above-par score against New Zealand on a ground where swing bowlers have ruled the roost in the past few ODI games. And for that, not just the openers or Surya, but the likes of wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant also need to step up and be counted.
Pant's ODI record is pretty impressive, but the runs have dried up since the tour of England (primarily in T20 cricket). He is one player who needs to fire to ensure that the Indian middle order looks competitive against a quality BlackCaps attack. His presence and lack of bowling options among the specialist batters also effectively mean that fellow wicketkeeper-opener Sanju Samson has to sit out again, like the last game where all-rounder Deepak Hooda was preferred over the immensely popular cricketer from Kerala.
Since the last match was a wash-out, it will be interesting if interim head coach VVS Laxman decides to shuffle the playing XI, especially the bowling attack where chinaman Kuldeep Yadav is yet to get an opportunity. But, to leave out either leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal or all-rounder-spinner Washington Sundar will be doing them a disservice.
Fellow all-rounder-pacer Shardul Thakur looked pedestrian in the opening ODI in Auckland, and, in all likelihood, fellow pacers Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Chahar and the fiery Umran Malik will continue to lead the pace attack. For the New Zealand pacers Matt Henry, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson, there couldn't be a better venue to exploit the frailties in India's batting to the fullest. Similarly, the Indian bowling attack would get a conducive bowling track to ask probing questions to top-order batters Tom Latham and Kane Williamson, who have proved to be the thorn in the flesh during the last game.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (vc & wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Shardul Thakur and Umran Malik.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Finn Allen, Devin Conway (wk), Tom Latham (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips (wk), Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson.
Date and day: November 30, 2022 (Wednesday)
Venue: Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Time: 7.00 AM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): DD Sports (Only on Free Dish)
Where to watch (Online): Amazon Prime Video
(With inputs from PTI)