Mount Maunganui (New Zealand): A well-deserved break on the cards, India captain Virat Kohli will be aiming to seal the five-match series when his team square off against a confused New Zealand in the third ODI here Monday.
The Indian captain has been given a break as part of BCCI’s workload management programme and he would like to ensure that he finishes his assignment Down Under on a high after the maiden Test and ODI victories in Australia. An unassailable 3-0 lead would be a fitting revenge to India’s abject 0-4 humiliation during the 2014 limited overs series.
One of the primary focus of Monday’s encounter could be inclusion of Indian cricket’s latest enfant terrible Hardik Pandya, who is coming back from provisional suspension for his loose talk on a TV chat show.
Pandya’s presence lends solidity and balance to the side and the skipper has time and again admitted it. The Baroda all rounder’s replacement Vijay Shankar is a decent cricketer but is yet to possess the X factor that Pandya has.
Pandya is a few clicks quicker than Shankar whose bowling in the three ODIs that he has played has not been penetrative. Pandya can also bat at No. 6 if the situation arises and his busy approach in batting can also get the scoreboard ticking in middle overs as the skipper wants. Otherwise Indian team don’t require much tinkering.
New Zealand, on the other hand, have looked clueless against India’s wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who have accounted for 12 of the 20 wickets in the last two ODIs. Seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami also have done their job well, getting crucial breakthroughs for the team.
India’s batting looks solid with most of the top-order in form. The return of Pandya in the middle will once again lend depth to the batting while also ending India’s quest for a fifth bowler.
For Black Caps, captain, Kane Williamson, who had top-scored in the first ODI, it is a do-or-die situation. There’s two games in a row now where we’ve not had control at any stage, but we need to take small steps. We need to come good now, otherwise the series will be lost,”’ Williamson said.
“Some of the dismissals were a result of us going too hard maybe. If you have wickets in hand, you never know. But we didn’t have wickets in hand in both the games. Those are the lessons that we need to take ahead,” he added.
Match Starts at 7:30 am.