Have-nots' chance to send across message
Match factsSunday, January 19, 2014
Start time 1400 local (0100 GMT)
Big PictureOn Sunday begins what is possibly one of India's last full tours to countries other than England and Australia. New Zealand will have woken up to news that the big three of world cricket want to take control of the ICC, and want to do away with the FTP, which in any case is not binding on the member nations. This is New Zealand's chance to show they might not be bringing in as much money as the big three to the ICC, but they are not have-nots. That they bring enough flair of their own. Starting with the Napier ODI, the first New Zealand will be playing against India in more than three years, there should be enough motivation for the hosts to push India off the top of the ICC ODI rankings, which they can do with a series win.
Conflictingly they will also know that the IPL will be watching, a tournament at the heart of such division between the haves and the have-nots in world cricket. No New Zealander has been retained by the IPL. This series is a chance for the New Zealand players to send one final reminder to the franchises. And to correct the following statistic: their batsmen have the worst average of teams that have played ODIs in New Zealand since December 2011.
The Indian batsmen will be looking forward to the smaller outfields and the usually flat pitches in New Zealand. Brendon McCullum, though, is already flirting with the ideas of playing four quicks. Mike Hesson, the coach, has asked the groundsmen in New Zealand for a harsh welcome for India. The focus, once again, will shift to the Indian bowlers for whom going for less than 300 was considered an achievement in South Africa even when they themselves struggled to get to 200.
Playing cricket in New Zealand is different. There are drop-in pitches, heavy winds and oddly shaped grounds. New Zealand should carry a big advantage from their familiarity with the conditions, but they will want it to show in the results: since beating West Indies in 2008-09, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are the only teams they have beaten in home ODI series.
Form guideNew Zealand LWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlightShikhar Dhawan has come into the spotlight after struggling on India's tour of South Africa, scoring 88 in six international innings. He will get quite a few bowled at his ribs with men back on the leg side. There won't be much to drive through the covers. Dhawan will have to show he is evolving as a batsman.
One of the bowlers testing Dhawan is likely to be Adam Milne, who clocked 153.9kmph during a recent Twenty20 international against West Indies. He says he has bowled faster in some domestic games where there are no speed guns. He could be one of the four quicks that McCullum wants unleashed on India.
Teams newsIf New Zealand do play four specialist quicks, one out of Nathan McCullum and James Neesham might have to make way. Also, Hesson has already said Corey Anderson might be a bit fatigued, and might miss out on a game or two at some time during the series. Anderson wasn't even released for Northern Districts' T20 playoff against Canterburry.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Corey Anderson/James Neesham 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum/Adam Milne, 9. Kyle Mills, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
India had dropped Yuvraj Singh from their previous ODI series. If they pick a batsman for batsman, either Ajinya Rahane or Ambati Rayudu should come in. However, India could also think of giving Stuart Binny a debut, especially because they have missed a seam-bowling allrounder on these away trips, and ODIs are a good place to test him. If Binny does play, he could come in at the expense of a specialist batsman or even R Ashwin, who had a torrid time in South Africa.
India (possible) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ajinkya Rahane/Stuart Binny/Ambati Rayudu, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin/Stuart Binny, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Pitch and conditionsOver to MS Dhoni: "The wicket looks good, dry and hard. Looks good for ODIs. Fast bowlers will get extra bounce. Intelligent bowlers may use the wind to their advantage, if you bowl in the right areas the ball may swing for a duration of time. Normally it stops after 10-15 overs, but here it may be prolonged a bit. Bowlers will have something from the wicket but once the batsmen get set they will love the pace and bounce."
A sunny Sunday with a high of 27 degrees and a low of 15 has been forecast.
Stats and trivia
- MS Dhoni is one short of becoming the fourth wicketkeeper, and first Indian, with 300 ODI dismissals. Kumar Sangakkara, Mark Boucher and Adam Gilchrist are ahead of him
- In ODIs since 2004, only India have been a worse venue for fast bowlers than New Zealand. Quicks in New Zealand have averaged 35.48 over the period at an economy rate of 5.33. The corresponding numbers in India have been 35.50 and 5.48
- From the current India squad, only MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma have played in New Zealand
Quotes"Obviously we'll see how everyone pulls up through training as well, but I think it will be quite nice to unleash a bit of pace in this opening game and then try and be aggressive and as hostile as we can with ball in hand."
Brendon McCullum doesn't want to give India a soft welcome
"We have looked into each and every aspect of not only batting and bowling, but fielding also, which will be very crucial. So most of the areas have been covered, and we have had a few days to prepare."
MS Dhoni says India are ready
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo