After suffering a seven-wicket loss in the ODI series opener to New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, India would be seeking major improvements in batting and bowling to square the series in the second match at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Sunday.
Hamilton is a city which is an hour and half away drive from Auckland and with that, changes will come into play as Seddon Park is a batting-friendly pitch with dimensions not as funky as it is in Eden Park. The visitors would be aware that in order to save the series, they need their openers, captain Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill to get runs at a faster pace.
Dhawan and Gill had an opening stand of 124 in 23.1 overs, but their start was slow as New Zealand bowlers got some seam and swing from the pitch, resulting in only 40 runs coming in the power-play. Though the duo went on to notch up their respective half-centuries, they couldn’t convert their knocks into a big score.
Moreover, Dhawan and Gill had a dot-ball percentage of 59.74 (playing 46 dot balls) and 58.46 (playing 38 dot balls), respectively in the match. In terms of boundary percentage, Dhawan had 72.22 per cent while Gill was at just 44%. If India wish to get a huge total on board at Hamilton, they will need Dhawan and Gill to be at their quick and attacking best.
Suryakumar Yadav was dismissed after stroking a wonderful cover drive on the very first ball while Rishabh Pant needs to shrug off his struggles and get the timing right as a number four batter. Shreyas Iyer, despite being troubled by short balls and having some luck on his side, continued to lead the charge for India crossing 300-mark with a fine 80.
Sanju Samson was crucial in being the perfect support to Iyer, before Washington Sundar took on the New Zealand bowlers with a whirlwind 37 not out off 16 balls in the last five overs of the innings. With the ball, India sorely missed the services of a sixth bowling option, an aspect which is very vital in ODI cricket.
Though Shardul Thakur began well with tight lines and lengths in his new-ball spell, he was expensive in the later stages of the match as Tom Latham plundered 25 runs off him in the 40th over. As Latham attacked well in his 145 not out, debutant Arshdeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal went for plenty of runs.
Only Sundar, with his more than handy off-spin, and Umran Malik rushing up the batters with speed and control in his maiden ODI appearance were able to trouble the New Zealand batters. For the Blackcaps, they will be delighted with how Latham stood up to bail them out of trouble with a knock to remember for the ages.
They would also be delighted with captain Kane Williamson finding form with 94 not out and being the supporter to Latham in chasing down 307. Matt Henry and Tim Southee did succeed in troubling the Indian batters initially while Lockie Ferguson, despite being expensive, had the handy knack of breaking stands and picking wickets in quick succession.
Overall, it should be a game where India will be expected to get their mistakes right in batting and bowling apart from some misfields happening on the field too, as said by Iyer after the match ended.
India: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (vice-captain & wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Chahar and Umran Malik.