The 5-match one-day series between hosts India and the touring Kiwis, beginning on Sunday at Guwahati, is significant. For one, the series marks the final opportunity that both these sides will have playing in subcontinent conditions before the onset of the World Cup early next year. So both teams will need to hit upon their most effective and promising combinations in the process.
Gautam Gambhir who has assumed the role of India captain for the five fixtures has some proving to do where his batting is concerned, as will Suresh Raina who hasn't been quite upto the mark in recent encounters. M Vijay, who will take up the opening slot in the absence of Virender Sehwag, welcomes this chance to don Indian colours in the ODI arena. It's also the first ODI outing for other young players like Suarab Tiwary and Wriddiman Saha who will be itching to show their mettle on the big stage.
The series will also mark the return of the big-hitting Yusuf Pathan who has demonatrated on a few occasions thus far that he can be a potent weapon for India, while Virat Kohli who had a prosperous last outing against Australia, will help bolster up the top order. Yuvraj Singh, who was edged out of a middle-order slot in Tests by Suresh Raina, will now be batting alongside his team-mate. There will be a blend of new blood with old in the pace department with Vinay Kumar siding up to Ashish Nehra.
Oftentimes, sides possess more veterans in their Test squad than in one-dayers. But for New Zealand it is just the opposite. Players like Daryl Tuffy, Kyle Mills and Scott Styris are all on their 30s, but obviously still have what it takes to challenge the better sides in one-day cricket. Meanwhile, 29-year-old Jamie How, who will make his first ODI appearance in two years, will hope to emulate the good form he demonstrated while playing in the Champions League in South Africa in September. What New Zealand lacks in confidence, they compensate for in experience and they will look to their most experienced campaigners to help them put up a good fight in the series. Of course, the Kiwis will miss the aggression of a Jesse Ryder who was sent home after picking up a groin injury. But young Ross Taylor has shown that he possesses the right batting prowess and
temperament to fill his shoes.
Taylor, who had quite an ordinary time in the recently-concluded tests will be one of the key men for the Kiwis, while for India, R Ashwin will look to take the momentum he gained from the IPL and Champions Leagues matches earlier this year, into the one-day series. Ashwin who possess some useful weapons in the carrom ball and other variations will look to impress.
Keeping in tradition with most subcontinent wickets, the track at Guwahati is supposed to be more conducive for batting. So the crowd will surely to get cheer the making of a lot of runs. The curator mentioned that he has given a top-dressing of the pitch with special clay collected from outside to ensure less wear and tear. There may also be a bit of moisture to benefit the seamers early on from the early morning dew.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Jamie How, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Kane Williamson, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 James Franklin/Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Daryl Tuffey/Andy McKay
India (probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Yusuf Pathan 7 Saurabh Tiwary, 8 Wriddiman Saha (wk), 9 R Ashwin, 10 Vinay Kumar, 11 Ashish Nehra.