New Zealand seek solutions to India’s spin challenge




Ever since Kuldeep Yadav played his first ODI match in June 2017, the chinaman bowler has been a prolific wicket-taker – currently the table topper among those with most wickets since his debut. That four of the top five in the said list are wrist spinners – with Kuldeep and fellow spinner Yuzvendra Chahal occupying the top two positions – is further proof of how the leg-spin revolution has taken over the limited-overs format.

New Zealand were at the receiving end of the Kuldeep-Chahal show in the first ODI and ended up with a below par total to make life easier for the Indian batsmen. Barring Kane Williamson – who also threw away a good start in his attempt to force the pace against the spinners – none of the New Zealand middle-order batsmen appeared comfortable against the spin duo. What allowed the spinners to dominate the way they did was the platform set by Mohammed Shami, who with his accurate line and lengths accounted for early wickets.

After a batsmen-dominated series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand were expected to continue in the same way against India. But the gulf in the two oppositions’ bowling line-ups was evident in the way the Indian bowlers ran away with the game and bowled out the hosts for 157, which should serve as a good wake up call for New Zealand. “Their whole bowling unit contributed well and they need credit for that,” Williamson had said after the game. It’s now up his batsmen to find they way out of this mess and come up with a solid plan to counter the quality Indian attack.

Most of it went right for India in the opening game – Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar forming a potent pace attack despite the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, the wrist spinners doing what was expected of them, and also the fifth and sixth bowling options in Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav keeping it tidy. As far as batting was concerned, it was a welcome return to form for Shikhar Dhawan while Virat Kohli’s batting appeared to be on auto-pilot mode until he got out for 45. Although Rohit Sharma hasn’t crossed fifty in his last three outings, India will feel it’s just a matter of time as the right-handed opener has managed at least one century in each of his last ten ODI series. It would, however, do India some good if they can improve their fielding and catching, which wasn’t quite at its best in the first game.

When: Saturday, January 26 at 3:00 PM local time (7:30 AM IST)

Where: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

What to expect: 371, 326, 319 and 298 were the totals in the previous series at this venue, with New Zealand overcoming special efforts from Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera. But it’s a different challenge altogether against India’s superior batting and bowling arsenal. Pleasant conditions will welcome the teams with a high of 25 degree Celsius and no rain expected.

Team news:

New Zealand: Considering the collapse that they suffered in the previous game, New Zealand might look at strengthening their batting a bit by bringing in Colin de Grandhomme for Doug Bracewell. They might also ponder bringing back Sodhi into the eleven, considering the success of the Indian wrist spinners in the first game.

Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme/Doug Bracewell, Mitchell Santner/Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

India: The visitors are unlikely to make any changes to their combination for this game, although they will have to going forward in the series, with Kohli set to leave after the third ODI while Hardik Pandya has been asked to join the team.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal.

What they said:

“We know they’re good and we have played them a number of times. We expected them to be good and they were. It’s more about us and how we put out a better performance” – Kane Williamson.

© Cricbuzz


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