ROHIT OUT FOR INDIA AS BLACKCAPS SEEK WHITE BALL REVENGE
After India took the T20 leg of the tour of New Zealand by a 5-0 margin, the two teams now line up to play three One-Day Internationals. Kane Williamson’s Kiwis will be keen to gain revenge and James Buttler finds the betting value…
New Zealand have always been the good guys of world cricket. Since their graceful acceptance of defeat in the World Cup Final at Lord’s last summer the nice guy image seems to be their defining quality. In being the most pleasant blokes on the planet the Kiwis appear to have lost their ruthless streak.
KIWI SUPER OVER WOES CONTINUE
In the five-match T20 International series that preceded the three One-Day International series and two Test matches, the Indians took a 5-0 win, but that scoreline doesn’t remotely tell the story.
India won the first two games relatively comfortably, but games three and four went to Super Overs and New Zealand should have sailed the chase in the fifth game before they bottled the chase.
The Blackcaps had lost the World Cup on a countback on boundaries after tying both the match and the Super Over. They lost a Super Over against England in the recent series decider when they were ahead in that game.
Then Kane Williamson’s mesmeric 95 in the third game against India had the Kiwis on the verge of victory. The Kiwi captain had played an incredible 47 ball knock, his team needed two to win and all the romantics were thinking was could he win the game with a six to record his first-ever T20I century.
Williamson is the epitome of calm and collect but he edged Mohammad Shami behind, then a dot ball and a bye and Ross Taylor was bowled off the final ball to leave the scored level. And they lost the Super Over only after Rohit Sharma hit the last two balls for six.
In the fourth game, the Kiwis needed only seven from the final over to win and proceeded to lose four wickets as the game was tied. They lost the Super Over again.
And in the fifth game, Ross Taylor had recovered New Zealand’s chase from a perilous 17 for three in the hunt of 164 to win. With six overs to face the Kiwis required only 45 with five wickets on hand. In T20 terms it was more routine than challenging. The 16th over went for nine runs and but the Kiwis then lost three wickets in five balls, Taylor was gone for 53 and the chase fell short by seven runs.
One saving grace for Kane Williamson’s side – it’s better to lose now that in the World T20 in October. But they need to learn their lessons quickly.
INDIA DESERVE CREDIT
The New Zealanders inability to win these close matches will haunt them. They are scars that may take some healing. New Zealand are getting into a losing habit as India gain confidence from the reverse effect.
It isn’t all about the host’s inability to get over the line. They have an injury-ravaged side, plenty of inexperience and to call them chokers detracts from India’s achievements. The Subcontinent team are in the winning habit and captain Kohli is growing as a tactical leader of men on the pitch.
So often a pinup boy, statesman and ambassador, Kohli has been criticised in the past for being too reactive and emotional as skipper. He said after the fourth T20I that: “”There’s something new I’ve learnt in the last couple of games, which is: when the opposition is playing that well, you’ve just got to stay calm in the game, observe what’s happening and if an opportunity comes your way, you capitalise on it and try and make the most of it.”
If he can take that lesson forward, India will be a much more dangerous side under his captaincy.
The Blackcaps will be without their premier fast bowlers because of injuries to Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson but will be seeking revenge for their disappointments in the T20 series. Tim Southee will be the premier pace bowler on show with Hamish Bennett and James Neesham in support.
For India, opener Shikhar Dhawan had already been ruled out of the tour with a shoulder injury and now Rohit Sharma is heading home after injuring his calf in the last T20I. Prithvi Shaw was in for Shikhar and Shubman Gill is the likeliest replacement for Rohit. India are already without paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Hardik Pandya through injury.
WHO WINS THE SERIES?
India have bounced back brilliantly after suffering the disappointment of losing to New Zealand at the semi-final stage of the Cricket World Cup. They have beaten West Indies 2-0 in a series with one rain abandonment, then West Indies 2-1 and Australia 2-1, with the latter two series wins seeing them come back after losing the first game.
The Kiwis haven’t played the 50-over format since losing the World Cup Final to England. Some still insist the trophy should have been shared after both match and Super Over were tied and England taking the trophy after hitting more boundaries – a rule that has since been changed.
India were dominant in the T20s and have played significantly more white-ball cricket in recent times. The tourists have won the last three ODI series against New Zealand, last taking a five-match series in India in 2018/19 by a 4-1 margin.
It’s tough to go against Virat Kohli’s side, but to eek out a little more betting value play the series result at 2-1 as, over the longer format, the New Zealanders should break their white-ball duck in 2020.
KIWIS LOOKING TO CAPTAIN KANE
Over the 50-over format, the classy players have more chance of leading the scoring charts than in the smash and grab T20 arena. Blackcaps skipper Kane Williamson scored a wonderful 95 in the third T20I and will relish having more time to build an innings. He scored 948 ODI runs in 2019 at an average of 59.25. His average is lower against India. Across 24 matches he averages 40.08 but remains the Kiwis major weapon.
A man to rival Williamson in the top Kiwi batting market could be Tom Latham. The left-handed batsman has a great record against India in 50-over cricket with 593 runs at an average of 53.91. He has hit a century and four fifties against the Men In Blue and is a value betting play.
INJURED ROHIT A BIG MISS
Rohit Sharma was the leading run-scorer in the world in the 50-over format in 2019, just beating skipper Virat Kohli into the second spot. The Indian camp appeared to play up his chances of recovering from the calf injury that he sustained in the final T20 game, but the star opener is set to miss the ODI and Test series. It’s a huge blow for the India camp and he was my best to score the most runs.
With Rohit missing Virat Kohli is the other top-class act for the Men In Blue. He has 183 runs at 61.00 already this year add to his 1377 at 59.86 last year, which saw him second in the list behind Rohit.
Rohit’s injury hands a potential chance to Mayank Agarwal or Shubman Gill, who are the players likely to be considered as replacements. Agarwal is the more experienced of the pair and has had a stunning year in Test match cricket. Gill is a star of the future and starting to get more chances with the international side and has a game more in tune with one-day cricket. His shots through the offside can be glorious.
With Lokesh Rahul top-scoring in the T20 series and young starlet Privthi Shaw returning to the fold after suspension, there are plenty of fine players in the top order. But the Rolls Royce player being Virat Kohli it does sometimes make betting sense to play the favourite in the market, particularly when he is as consistently brilliant as the Indian skipper.
HAMISH STEPPING UP TO THE MARK AFTER ABSENCE
Hamish Bennett will play his first ODI for three years after being called into the squad due to injuries. He was the Kiwi’s leading wicket-taker in the T20I series and the right-armer will be confident of adding to his 27 wickets in 16 previous games in this format.
The right-arm medium-fast bowler from New Zealand made his comeback to the international arena recently.
BUMRAH IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD
There is no doubt whatsoever that Jasprit Bumrah is the best one-day bowler around. The paceman possesses incredible control and has the uncanny habit of putting the ball where the batsman least wants it. He is a class act and is rightly favourite to take most wickets for India in this series.
Mohammad Shami has supported Bumrah well in the last year. He took 42 wickets to Bumrah’s 25 in 2019 and with Bhuvneshwar Kumar still missing it will be this pair that again provides the most threat.
The spin challenge comes from Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Although the hosts will respect their talent, the surfaces should assist the seamers more.