India v New Zealand, 5th ODI, Chennai December 9, 2010

Can New Zealand avert another whitewash?

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Match Facts

Friday, December 10
Start time 14.30 (0900 GMT)

The Big Picture

The fourth ODI hinted at a New Zealand revival. Their approach was certainly different and refreshing. It was visible in their batting and bowling, and they were just about pinned down only because of Yusuf Pathan's brutality. Their fans will hope that New Zealand continue with this positive approach in the final ODI. Despite being put into bat under overcast conditions in Bangalore, they weren't circumspect. They didn't focus on survival, as they had tried to do but failed earlier in the series, but chose to attack. It didn't feel like a desperate attempt either - they never swung wildly - but a positive strategy to turn their fortunes around. Their bowlers too, nearly did the job, but were shoved out of the contest by a violent knock. They haven't won an ODI in nearly four months and something had to give. This new approach might well be the right path to lead them out of the hole.

For their part, India are likely to view the top-order collapse in Bangalore as an aberration and revel in the fact that the situation produced the best out of Yusuf, and raised hope of removing a weak-link in the lower order. They might also see their death-over bowling woes in the last game - 63 runs in the last five overs - as an aberration as it was Ashish Nehra, normally their best bowler in such situations, who gave away 38 in his last two overs. And even then, just like New Zealand didn't account for Yusuf, India were blindsided by James Franklin.

Pitch and conditions

The good news is that Chennai, which had heavy rains earlier in the week, hasn't seen a downpour since Wednesday. The bad news, though, is that the forecast suggests that it might rain on Friday.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
India:WWWWW
New Zealand: LLLLL

Watch out for...

Is Martin Guptill on the cusp of breaking free from his old failing of throwing away his starts? Or is he still stuck in the same rut? He played a skillful knock in the previous ODI, using conventional shots as attacking options, but fell when set.

Ashish Nehra is no Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis, of course, but he is a capable bowler in the end overs of an innings. He is the man MS Dhoni turns to during both bowling and batting Powerplays, and in the final overs. If he had got complacent - there is no evidence to suspect that - the fourth ODI would have been a wake-up call.

Teams

New Zealand could focus on one change: Jamie How hasn't grabbed his chances and might be replaced by Kane Williamson, whose offbreaks provide another option. The case against Williamson, articulated publicly by former New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan, is that he is not a perfect fit for No. 3. The view is that Williamson slows down the run-rate as he is the type of batsman who needs time at the crease to get going. Is it just a perception? Can Williamson, given enough experience in that slot, change his game? Or is this not a good time to extend him that opportunity as the World Cup is around the corner? He could be pushed lower down the order, but would that role fit him?

New Zealand (probable): 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Jamie How/Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 James Franklin, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Andy McKay

India, too, will probably make one change: they will most likely give Zaheer Khan a rest and bring back Munaf Patel.

India (probable): 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Saurabh Tiwary, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Munaf Patel, 11 Ashish Nehra.

Stats and trivia

  • Nehra conceded 70 runs in nine overs in the last game. It was the ninth time he had leaked more than 70 in an ODI and he holds the dubious record of doing it the most times.Three other bowlers - Waqar, James Anderson, and Naved-ul-Hasan - have given more than 70 runs seven times.

  • Yuvraj Singh took his 75th catch to dismiss Guptill in the fourth game of the series. Only six other Indians - Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, and Virender Sehwag - have caught more.

Quotes

"We will look at it as we do every game - to win it. I know that's hard to say after losing so many games in a row but we still think we can do it. The batsmen showed how good they can be. If we get that performance again we hope our bowlers can do better."

Daniel Vettori looks ahead to the fifth ODI

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo