Onus on New Zealand’s top five to deliver in dead rubber

Big picture: Will New Zealand’s top five please stand up?

Six-eighty-six runs in the series opener and just 219 in the second game. Even if the total runs scored in the match reduced by nearly 70% from the first ODI to the second, the common and worrying theme for New Zealand was how their top five barely showed up. While chasing 350 in Hyderabad, their top five totalled 101 runs; batting first in Raipur they managed a mere 11 runs as New Zealand collapsed to 15 for 5.

Michael Bracewell‘s heroic 140 off 78 balls saved them the blushes the first time but there was nothing to hide their face behind in the second. Undoubtedly, New Zealand need a lift from their top five, which is without Kane Williamson, and what will lift their spirits is that Indore, the venue of the final game, serves runs – like its food – on a platter. In the last ODI here, in September 2017, Australia scored 293, with their top three scoring 229, including a century from Aaron Finch. And in the most recent T20I here last October, Rilee Rossouw blasted a match-winning 48-ball century when South Africa amassed 227. On both occasions, India found it hard to dismiss the opposition’s top five.
Devon Conway, Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell are the batters New Zealand will expect a lot from, and No. 5 Tom Latham is perhaps due for runs against a side he already averages (minimum five innings) and scores the most against. Finn Allen got a start in the first ODI but he was beaten comprehensively by Mohammed Shami‘s swing in the second, and will be itching to get runs too.
New Zealand’s issues don’t end there. The chances of it happening in Indore may not be much and they are already without Tim Southee and Trent Boult, but they will be desperate for quick and early wickets to avoid more punishment from Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma.
India do not have anything to worry about with the series in the bag. With only one more ODI series between this one and the IPL, they would want to see some more of Suryakumar Yadav’s batting in this format, before KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer return from personal leave and injury respectively.

A 3-0 win will take India to the top of the ODI rankings. If India win 3-0, England will have to beat South Africa by the same margin in the ODI series starting January 27 to displace India from the top.

Form guide

India WWWWW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
New Zealand LLWWL

In the spotlight: Suryakumar Yadav and Devon Conway

Suryakumar is on several former players’ and commentators’ wishlists for the World Cup later this year. But where does he fit in? Once everyone is available, Virat Kohli slots in at No. 3, Iyer at 4, and Hardik Pandya at 6, leaving only No. 5. Going on current form, that slot goes to Rahul along with the keeping gloves. But Suryakumar’s red-hot form in T20s and even the two Ranji Trophy games he played recently have earned him a few ODIs in the lead-up to the big event later this year, but time is also running out for him. He scored 31 off 26 in the first ODI and didn’t get to bat in the second, and who knows, he may not get another ODI after this series – they play three against Australia in March – before the IPL arrives. What can he do in this one game to impress the selectors and the team management?

Conway was in prolific form in Pakistan before he crossed the border. He scored 91 and 122 in the Tests followed by a century and a half-century in the ODIs to average 51 and take the Player-of-the-Series award. So far on this tour he has faced just 16 balls in each of the two ODIs while falling to pace, but he would want to spend more time in the middle before the teams switch to T20Is. Apart from the experience of Latham, Conway is the name in the top order New Zealand could look to for both quick runs and stability.

Team news: Will India give Chahal a chance? Will NZ make changes?

Having won the series, India could try some other players on Tuesday. Yuzvendra Chahal, who played just one ODI against Sri Lanka, could come in for Kuldeep Yadav. But it remains to be seen if India will try out Rajat Patidar or Shahbaz Ahmed, who are hardly in the running for the World Cup, or continue to give game time to their first-choice players to give them more confidence before the big event at home. Umran Malik could come in for Mohammed Siraj or Mohammed Shami – taking Shardul Thakur‘s place would deplete the batting – but that would mean opening the bowling with Hardik because Malik usually comes on as first change.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ishan Kishan (wk), 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 and 11: two out of Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Umran Malik

Ish Sodhi missed the opener with an ankle injury and barely trained with the team on Monday in the nets. New Zealand do not need a third spinner on the small ground in Indore but could give a game to Doug Bracewell or Jacob Duffy. They could also change their top five a little by bringing in Mark Chapman, who scored a 74-ball century in his last ODI.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Henry Nicholls/Mark Chapman, 4 Daryl Mitchell, 5 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Michael Bracewell, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Doug Bracewell/Henry Shipley/Jacob Duffy, 10 Blair Tickner, 11 Lockie Ferguson

Pitch and conditions: Another run-fest in Indore?

What do you expect on a small ground with a quick outfield and possibly a flat pitch? You don’t have to answer. The decision to bowl first after winning the toss will also be likely given the chance of dew once the sun sets. The ground staff will employ anti-dew spray but that’s unlikely to change the toss decision.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

#Onus #Zealands #top #deliver #dead #rubber