Both teams will need to guard against early inroads by pacemen
The McLean Park has long straight boundaries and short square ones. Cricketers need to employ as much intelligence as skill to harness the conditions.
Horizontal bat shots will be valuable on this arena. Yet, the execution of the cut and the pull presents an opportunity for the pacemen to strike.
The slog sweep could come into play against the spinners. Again the batsmen will have to weigh the percentages.
Judgment — the right ball to strike — holds the key.
Sunday’s ODI here, the first of the five-match series between India and New Zealand, could also witness strong winds sweeping across the venue.
The breeze could encourage swing but then the pacemen bowling against the wind have to display strength and discipline.
Controlling the extent of movement would also be a test for the bowlers in a format where the slightest deviation could result in a wide.
Spinners could achieve drift. R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja need to beat the batsmen in the air to achieve success here.
That only four fielders are allowed outside the circle in the non-Power Play overs makes life harder for the spinners in these conditions.
Rankings — India is No. 1 in ODIs while New Zealand is eighth — may not matter much against the rejuvenated Kiwis in familiar home conditions.
The surface here has a reputation for being pacy with healthy bounce. This may not be such a bad thing in an ODI — the ball could fly quickly off the bat.
However, both teams will need to guard against early inroads by the pacemen. And with two white balls in use, the pacers will be in the thick of things after the first 20 overs too.Better option
Chasing appears a better option at this venue. Making dents with the new ball, restricting the opposition and then pursuing on a track that might not slow down represents the best chance for a side.
The young Indian batting line-up will be spearheaded by the feisty Virat Kohli. Suresh Raina, expected to walk in at No. 4, will bring dash and flair to a crucial slot.
The Kiwis, though, are expected to test the southpaw with short-pitched stuff from the pacemen.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni lends stability to the line-up with his ability to rotate the strike and launch into the big hits when the situation demands. He is someone who reads the flow of the game exceptionally well.
With Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in its ranks, India has a pace-attack that can sting in these conditions.
Varun Aaron can hurt line-ups too with his speed and movement. He’s an attacking bowler.
New Zealand is an adversary that has ambushed several sides in ODI cricket. It is an outfit with depth and options.
Multi-dimensional cricketers such as James Neesham and Corey Anderson make New Zealand a versatile unit.
Of course, the host possesses batsmen who can swing games. Skipper Brendon McCullum is as dangerous as they come at the top of the order. Comeback-man Jesse Ryder can dismiss attacks ruthlessly. And natural shot-maker Ross Taylor could relish the short square boundaries.Fast and furious
The fast and furious Adam Milne should find the track to his liking. Left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan has been a wicket-taking paceman for the Kiwis at the death. Swing bowler Tim Southee pitches it up and consumes batsmen with movement.
An interesting series opener looms.
India (from): M.S. Dhoni (capt.), S. Dhawan, R. Sharma, V. Kohli, S. Raina, A. Rahane, R. Jadeja, R. Ashwin, M. Shami, I. Sharma, V. Aaron, B. Kumar, S. Binny, I. Pandey, A. Mishra and A. Rayudu.
New Zealand (from): B. McCullum (capt.), M. Guptill, J. Ryder, R. Taylor, K. Williamson, L. Ronchi, C. Anderson, N. McCullum, M. McClenaghan, A. Milne, T. Southee, J. Neesham and K. Mills.
Umpires: R. Tucker & D. Walker; Third umpire: C. Gaffaney; Match Referee: D. Boon.
Play starts at 6.30 a.m. (IST).