On social media, the #10yearchallenge is trending on an everyday basis. People are posting about how they used to look 10 years ago as compared to the situation now. For Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team, they have their own #10yearchallenge. A win on Monday at the Bay Oval against New Zealand will give them first series win in the country since 2009. A series win will also be sweet revenge for the humiliation of 2014 in which they were hammered 0-4 in the five-match series. On the evidence of the performance in Napier and Mount Maunganui, India is like a well-oiled machine and it is going to take something special for New Zealand to stop Kohli’s side.
Two complete performances in the series have made Kohli and the Indian cricket fans incredibly happy. The third match will be the last ODI game for Kohli before he is rested for the remainder of the tour as the BCCI look to keep Kohli fresh ahead of the home series against Australia, the IPL and importantly for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 which will be played in England. However, it is the likely inclusion of Hardik Pandya which will grab the most eyeballs.
The Baroda all-rounder, who was suspended for a couple of weeks for his ‘outrageous’ comments on the show Koffee With Karan, is back and he could replace Vijay Shankar in the side. With Pandya’s inclusion, the balance of the Indian cricket team, something which was stressed by Shikhar Dhawan during the Australia series could well be restored. Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been in brilliant form while Kohli and Ambati Rayudu have chipped in. MS Dhoni has been brilliant and also Kedar Jadhav. Pandya’s inclusion will strengthen both the batting and the bowling.
Kuldeep Yadav has been sensational, taking eight wickets in two games while Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been superb in the powerplay overs. With the two wristspinning options of Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal working well, India are not missing Jasprit Bumrah. A win for India could undo all the good work for New Zealand, who had built significant momentum heading into this massive series.
No big scores
Before this series, New Zealand had lost just one series at home in the last one year. They are all set to lose their second unless their batting turns the corner. Barring Kane Williamson, none of the other batsmen have stepped up and built upon their starts. Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor have thrown away their solid starts while Martin Guptill and Colin Munro have failed to get going in the powerplay.
The bowling has been shored up by the impressive Lockie Ferguson but the inability of the rest of the bowling to make inroads has hurt Williamson’s side. New Zealand’s batsmen have plenty of work to do and they will need the middle order to chip in with a big contribution.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Henry Nicholls, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Micthell Santner, Tim Southee