New Zealand vs India: 2nd ODI, Preview – Focus on Men in Blue's team combination as another do-or-die encounter looms

New Zealand vs India: 2nd ODI, Preview – Focus on Men in Blue’s team combination as another do-or-die encounter looms

Last time these two sides played an ODI at Eden Park, it ended in a thrilling tie.

Virat Kohli and KL Rahul
Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

It has almost become synonymous with Team India- losing the first ODI of a three-match series- isn’t it?  They did it against West Indies when Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope took their bowling attack to the cleaners back in December. They certainly did it when David Warner and Aaron Finch amassed a record 258-run stand-in Mumbai to consign them to a ten-wicket drubbing, and the same happened in Hamilton where Ross Taylor’s brilliant hundred and counter-attacking innings from Tom Latham took the wind out of the Indian attack.

And, so with the series on the line, Team India moves to the iconic Eden Park in Auckland for the second ODI of the three-match series. There is something about Eden Park that almost always tends to produce nerve-wracking janglers. While everyone remembers the iconic 2015 semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa but India too, has had their share of nerve-janglers at the venue.

Who can forget that iconic tied fixture, the last time these two sides played an ODI in Auckland back in 2014 when Ravindra Jadeja [66 off 45 balls] almost took India past the finishing line. But unlike these days when the Kiwis tend to lose from even winnable positions, that day Mitchell McClenaghan kept his cool and ensured that the game ended in a tie.

Speaking of the series opener, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor did keep their cool in the last ODI as they feasted on an indisciplined Indian bowling attack to help the Kiwis break their ignominious run of eight consecutive defeats in International cricket. But they would know, one swallow does not make a summer. And with Team India’s penchant for making a comeback after a poor performance a well-known aspect of their play, the Kiwis know that the visitors will come hard at them and they will have to be at the height of their powers to seal the series.

Team Combination

New Zealand

Skipper Tom Latham would have ideally wanted to play the same eleven that won in Hamilton. However, Scott Kuggeleijn is ruled out of the second ODI due to illness while six-foot-eight inch tall Kyle Jamieson is set to make his debut on his home ground, replacing leg-spinner Ish Sodhi who was picked only for the first match of the series.

Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (C & WK), Tom Blundell,  James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Hamish Bennett,  Kyle Jamieson.

India

India’s penchant for picking cricketers based on their secondary skill- “he can bat a bit” and “he can bowl a bit”- continued in Hamilton when they preferred Kedar Jadhav and Shardul Thakur ahead of Manish Pandey and Navdeep Saini respectively. While Kedar played a cameo in the end, he wasn’t used with the ball which begs the question: Shouldn’t Manish Pandey have played in Hamilton, given he is in brilliant form?

Another question that Team India will need to answer in Auckland is whether they want to play Shardul Thakur purely because of his ability with the bat? Thakur struggled with his line and length in Hamilton and is likely to be replaced by Navdeep Saini, who has impressed in the limited opportunities he’s got.

Kuldeep Yadav struggled in the first game. His struggles in bowling the googly are raising questions on whether his shoulder has completely healed or not. With Eden Park having even smaller boundaries as compared to Hamilton, India may rope in Yuzvendra Chahal in place of the chinaman.

Probable XI: Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (WK), Kedar Jadhav/Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur/Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

Focus will be on

Tom Latham (New Zealand)

Tom Latham likes batting against India. He has proven that in the past and he proved it again in Hamilton. The southpaw launched a stunning counter-attack against the Indian bowling unit during his 48-ball 69- an innings which included eight fours and two sixes, And as Virat Kohli said in the post-match press conference, it was his innings that really turned the tide substantially in New Zealand’s favour.

Virat Kohli (India)

Such are the standards set by the Indian captain that every time he gets out without scoring hundred- it is deemed as a failure. Kohli’s last ODI ton came in the West Indies back in August 2019. Since then, the 31-year-old has racked up four 50+ scores but has been unable to convert it into a century. Kohli is yet to get a hundred in the New Year. Will Saturday be the day when the champion batsman finally shrugs off the monkey off his back?

Stat Attack

3 – India have won only three out of eight ODIs at the Eden Park in Auckland. They have lost four while the other one ended in a tie (in 2014).

2003– The last time India [by one wicket] won an ODI at Eden Park in Auckland.

Broadcast details

TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 07:30 AM IST; 3:00 PM local