Will NZ end its losing streak?

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Published: Monday, December 6, 2010, 18:08 [IST]
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Will NZ end its losing streak?

As the Kiwis stand imbued in defeat, they will be scratching their heads, recalling the days when they could win a match. The last time they accomplished the feat was way back on Aug 10 this year when they subjected India to a humiliating 200-run loss. How can a team who is capable of inflicting such a crushing defeat on a top-class side, fall away so quickly?

When New Zealand takes guard at Bangalore's Chinaswamy stadium on Dec 7 for the fourth one-dayer against India in the going series, they won't be looking at the match as a dead rubber. They need to strike some form and take the fight to the Indians in order to salvage some pride and regain some identity as a winning side.

What has emerged from these previous three losses against India in a resounding way, are the Black Caps weaknesses. Their batsmen will have to stand their ground and their bowlers will have to get their act together. The latter aspect of their game is the biggest worry since their bowlers have not for a instant looked threatening against the Delhi pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli who have knocked off a total of 534 runs in 518 balls. They will have to bowl with a lot of consistency and character if they are to pull one back in the series. It hasn't helped that two gritty campaigners in Jesse Ryder and Jacob Oram are nowhere on the scene with Brendon McCullum not in the prime of fitness.

If for nothing else, the Kiwis need a win to prove to themselves that they can effect a victory in subcontinent conditions before the World Cup next year. They have been given more than enough time to adapt to the flat wickets of India and so now it's high time they step up to the plate.

The key men for New Zealand are undoubtedly Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson. While Williamson needs to increase his scoring rate, Ross Taylor needs to stick around just long enough to pose a threat to the Indians. They are both due for better innings and Bangalore just might provided them that opportunity.

The Indian to watch out for is Murali Vijay who has thus far proved a latent force behind Gambhir's initial successes at opening. He has the ability to play the long innings, but just needs to get his eye in and calm his nerves. He is prone to a loss in concentration, going for an impetuous shot when the situation least warrants it. But he has the wherewithal to be a match-winner for his side.

In terms of the team make-up, New Zealand will be hoping that Brendon McCullum will be able to pull himself together to keep wickets, so that they can add a specialist batsmen or bowler. Meanwhike, in the Indian camp, either Saurabh Tiwary or Rohit Sharma will get a shot, while Parthiv Patil who is returning to international cricket after two years, will stand in for Wriddiman Saha whom the BCCI has packed off to South Africa ahead of the Test series there.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Scott Styris, 6 James Franklin, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee/Grant Elliott/Gareth Hopkins, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Andy McKay

India (probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Saurabh Tiwary/Rohit Sharma, 7 Parthiv Patel (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9, 10 and 11 three out of Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel


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