Another boundary-filled contest in the offing
Match factsSunday, March 8, 2009
Start time 14.00 local (01.00 GMT)
The Big Picture
Both India and New Zealand have entertainers in their batting line-ups but the rainy weather in Napier and Wellington ensured that their performances were curtailed. The first ODI was a one-sided 28-over game, which India won by 53 runs, and the second got no further than 28.4 overs. Sunday's forecast says there's a 20% chance of precipitation in Christchurch. Hopefully it will leave enough time to squeeze in a 50-over contest.
India opened their tour with a Twenty20 international at the AMI Stadium, and their batsmen perished as they tried to take advantage of the short square boundaries. However, their approach in the one-day games has been more methodical and it is their intent which will worry New Zealand. Before the second ODI was ruined by rain, Sachin Tendulkar merely rotated strike while Virender Sehwag attacked viciously. However, Tendulkar seamlessly shifted to a higher gear and bore the responsibility of scoring quickly after Sehwag's dismissal. India have also kept New Zealand guessing about the No. 3 position: they sent in Gautam Gambhir in Wellington after Mahendra Singh Dhoni had been promoted in Napier.
New Zealand's best bowler has been their captain Daniel Vettori but he's had to perform damage control because the fast bowlers have bowled without consistency and conceded too many. Ian Butler was the best of the fast bowlers in Wellington, bowling short of a length on middle and off stump. Kyle Mills, however, was yet to find his direction while Jacob Oram was steady. Their bowling unit needs to perform collectively to restrict a powerful Indian line-up. The plan is to adopt a fuller line but whether it will work remains to be seen.
ODI form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
India - NWLWW
New Zealand - NLNLL
Watch out for ...
Martin Guptill: He blasted 41 off 28 balls in the series opener and has scores of 10 (given lbw despite an inside edge) and 64 since then. Guptill is a fierce puller and the short square boundaries at the AMI Stadium will be to his liking.
Yuvraj Singh: He's got going only in one innings so far, scoring 50 off 34 balls while falling in single digits the other three times. If he can overcome his troubles against spin and lateral movement, Yuvraj could cause serious damage in Christchurch.
Brendon McCullum has not recovered completely from a thumb injury and so New Zealand are likely to field the same XI as in Wellington, with Peter McGlashan as wicketkeeper.
New Zealand: 1 Jesse Ryder, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Jacob Oram, 6 Peter McGlashan (wk), 7 Grant Elliott, 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Ian Butler, 11 Iain O'Brien
India are unlikely to rush Ishant Sharma, who missed the first two games with a shoulder injury, either. "He [Ishant] bowled a bit but I think he will take a few more days of rest, at least two more days," Dhoni said yesterday. "It will be quite tight for the Christchurch game as of now."
India: 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Munaf Patel, 11 Zaheer Khan.
Pitch & conditions
A total of 24 sixes were hit in the first Twenty20 international at the AMI Stadium. There may not be as many on Sunday but if the weather stays clear the runs should flow because of the small boundaries. The trick, however, will be trying to steal ones, twos and threes on a small field. The weather on the eve of the match was warm and sunny but there is a 20% chance of rain on Sunday.
Stats and trivia
- New Zealand have played 43 ODIs in Christchurch, winning 25 and losing 18. Since 2000, they've won 12 and lost three.
- India have a poor record at the venue, losing all their five games here. New Zealand average 30.40 runs per wicket at the AMI Stadium, while India average 19.19.
"You have to hang in there for a while, not just go out and play your shots. You have to select your bowler, read the circumstances, your areas, sort out your game plan and what you are doing on the field. It is really important to do proper preparation before the game."
Suresh Raina knows what it takes.
"After the rained-out game we've got to win, Dan's told us it's a must-win game. We've been in the situation before with West Indies, and we've come out winning the must-win games, so hopefully the pressure we can put ourselves under will work in our favour."
Ross Taylor is confident New Zealand can bounce back.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo