The Kiwis hope to settle the series after the Auckland setback
From the loud and pulse-pounding finish at the Eden Park, the cricket caravan has moved to serene Hamilton.
Will there be a momentum shift after the gripping tie in the third ODI?
From an Indian perspective, it was important to halt the New Zealand surge. R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that. Now, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have earned themselves an opportunity to win the fourth ODI and then go on to level the series.
Despite a setback of sorts in Auckland, New Zealand will attempt to settle the series at the Seddon Park here on Tuesday.
The Kiwis made some uncharacteristic errors on the field in the climactic moments at the Eden Park and will seek to calm their nerves. It’s a side that takes pride in planning and execution.
Again, there is plenty riding on the last two games. If the series ends 2-2 then India regains the No. 1 spot in the ODIs.
The Indians are likely to retain the XI. Paceman Varun Aaron, given a fling in the last game, did not bowl at full clip but was still sharp. Operating around the 140 kmph mark he, however, tended to pitch too short. Aaron has interesting possibilities and is likely to be given another chance.
The surface at the Seddon Park is slower than most pitches in New Zealand. And the straight boundaries are short.
In the second ODI, on this ground, New Zealand overcame India by 15 runs in a contest where rain and the clouds played their roles too.
Bright weather has been forecast for Tuesday which will suit the Indians. If Dhoni’s astonishing luck with the toss continues, India may opt to chase again.
India, though, has to ensure that its bowlers do not concede too much ground. Mohammed Shami’s aggression is his ally, but he has to focus on length and direction.
Confidence drives players and Ashwin and Jadeja, after creditable bowling displays in the previous game, could bowl with greater belief.
The Indian batsmen, save the mercurial Virat Kohli and a fighting Dhoni, have shown glimpses of form without going on to construct a significant score.
This needs to change and the young bunch has to bat for the team.
In contrast, New Zealand has built solid foundations. Kane Williamson’s associations with different partners — 121 with Ross Taylor (third wicket) in Napier, 89 with Guptill (second) in Hamilton, and 153 with Guptill (second) in Auckland — have set things up for the host.
India has to find a way past the second and third wickets quickly to put pressure on the rest of the line-up.
Williamson, a flowing player of spin who rotates the strike capably, is the key.
Perhaps, a pace-spin combination could break Williamson’s batting rhythm rather than two spinners bowling in tandem.
New Zealand has a line-up of stroke-makers and a big innings could be due from the likes of opener Jesse Ryder and skipper Brendon McCullum.
Paceman Hamish Bennett bowled with heart and skill at the Eden Park but the surface here is slower. Wily paceman Kyle Mills could return to the XI.
The teams (from):
India: M.S. Dhoni (captain), S. Dhawan, R. Sharma, V. Kohli, S. Raina, A. Rahane, R. Ashwin, R. Jadeja, M. Shami, B. Kumar, V. Aaron, S. Binny, A. Rayudu, I. Pandey, A. Mishra. I. Sharma.
New Zealand: B. McCullum (captain), M. Guptill, J. Ryder, R. Taylor, K. Williamson, L. Ronchi, C. Anderson, N. McCullum, M. McClenaghan, T. Southee, H. Bennett, J. Neesham, K. Mills.
Umpires: R. Tucker & G. Baxter; Third umpire: B. Bowden; Match Referee: D. Boon.
Play starts at 6.30 a.m. (IST).