Injuries to key players has opened the door for exciting youngsters such as Prithvi Shaw to make an impression in the Indian line-up against a depleted New Zealand in the three-match One-day International series starting in Hamilton on Wednesday.
This is India’s third ODI assignment after the World Cup last year, having previously beaten West Indies in their backyard and Australia at home recently. The Black Caps, on the other hand, play their first ODI since finishing as runners-up in heartbreaking fashion in the World Cup in July.
The last time these two sides met in the 50-over format, New Zealand had knocked India out of the World Cup with an 18-run win over two days in the second semi-final at Manchester. India extracted revenge with a 5-0 T20 whitewash that concluded on Sunday.
In the current context, stakes aren’t that high as both sides prepare for the T20 World Cup later in Australia this year. In fact, the upcoming two-match Test series later this month bears more significance than this ODI rubber.
India were dealt a major blow when vice-captain Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the remainder of this tour after suffering from a calf injury, which he picked up in the final T20I. The Men in Blue are already missing Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar.
For New Zealand, inspirational skipper Kane Williamson has joined the injury list along with the likes of pace spearhead Trent Boult.
Mayank Agarwal was named as Rohit’s replacement for the ODI series and skipper Virat Kohli outlined that they will stick to the strategy adopted against Australia in Rajkot, where KL Rahul kept wickets and batted at No 5.
Kohli had more or less confirmed Shaw’s ODI debut, and now India could have two openers making their debut in the format. The last time such a situation arose was 2016, when KL Rahul and Karun Nair opened for India on their debuts in Zimbabwe.
Sunil Gavaskar and Sudhir Naik (1974) against England and Parthasarthy Sharma and Dilip Vengsarkar (1976) against New Zealand are the other previous instances for the visitors. Such a move would set up India’s batting line-up with Kohli at No 3 and Shreyas Iyer at No 4.
In the nets on Tuesday, Manish Pandey batted along with Kohli and Iyer, ahead of Shivam Dube, Rishabh Pant and Kedar Jadhav. If Pandey plays, the lower order will be a curious mix with Dube, Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja vying for the all-rounder’s spot. In the bowling department, three pacers will probably be the norm once again.
Kuldeep Yadav, who sat out the entire T20I series, is slated for a comeback given his impressive displays against West Indies and Australia at home. New Zealand will have some re-think before finalising their playing eleven too.
Tom Latham will lead the side ahead of Tim Southee, who was stand-in skipper during the last two T20Is. In Williamson’s absence, they will look towards Ross Taylor for anchoring their innings.
The Black Caps will be rejuvenated though with the inclusion of all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme. Ish Sodhi has only been picked for the first ODI and the Kiwis could opt for a two-prong spin attack given the slower surface at Seddon Park.
Keeper-batsman Tom Blundell and tall pacer Kyle Jamieson are the only ones who don’t have an ODI cap to their name.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (wk), Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini.
New Zealand: Tom Latham (c & wk), Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Hamish Bennett, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, Mark Chapman.
Match starts at 7.30am IST.