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India will make it 5-0 against New Zealand, feels Mohammad Azharuddin

He also felt that Shubman Gill should be given an opportunity in the last two ODIs.

Indian team
Indian team. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

India continued with their good form in New Zealand after beating Australia in both the Test and ODI series in their den. Virat Kohli’s men won the first two games of the five-match series even before the in-form Black Caps blinked and look favourites to wrap up the series fast. India won the first match in Napier by 8 wickets and the second in Mount Maunganui by 90 runs, looking to win their fourth consecutive series – bilateral and multilateral combined – in the 50-over format.

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin, whose record of playing in 334 ODIs for the country was equalled by another former captain MS Dhoni in the second game, is much impressed with Virat Kohli’s men in the ongoing series. Even though the Black Caps have been in good form of late and trounced Sri Lanka 3-0 in their previous series, Azharuddin felt India are much better side compared to them. As per the ICC’s ranking though, New Zealand are just behind India in the third position.

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“I think 5-0. The way New Zealand are currently playing, I don’t think they will be able to win any match. But nothing is impossible in one day cricket,” Azharuddin, a cricketer-turned-politician, told Sports Tak. “The Indian team is playing so good that it is compelling New Zealand to make mistakes.

“We thought New Zealand would put a fight but our team is a few steps ahead of them. We are a better side in terms of batting and bowling…I think there’s a scope for improvement in the fielding department.”

Azharuddin himself had led India in two ODI series in New Zealand in 1993-94 and 1998-99 and drew the Kiwis 2-2 on both occasions. India have won an ODI series in New Zealand only once (3-1 in 2008-09) and it was the captaincy of Dhoni. The only time India have thrashed the Kiwis 5-0 in a 50-over series was in 2010-11 at home and they were led by former opener Gautam Gambhir on that occasion.

Shubman should play in last two games

The 55-year-old Mohammad Azharuddin also said that youngsters like Shubman Gill should be given a chance in the final two games if India made it 3-0 on Monday. Gill joined the Indian squad as one of the two replacements for Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul. Pandya though joined the team and played in the third match.

Shubhman’s chances of making his India debut are high as regular captain Kohli will skip the final two games as well as the T20I series.

“The way India are playing, I think Virat Kohli will return home with an unbeatable 3-0 lead. And if that happens, India can experiment in the final two ODIs. Players like Shubman Gill and others who have not been given a chance yet may play. Vijay Shankar hasn’t batted yet and I think he should be part of the final two ODIs,” Azharuddin added.

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