Experienced India favoured in opener
Match FactsTuesday, August 10, 2010
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)
Big PictureFor a series with such an unhurried schedule, the rush to start within three days of the Tests is puzzling. India have had so little time to prepare that they decided to take an army chopper to Dambulla to save time on the five-hour road journey from Colombo. On Monday afternoon, the Indian team had their only practice session ahead of the one-dayers. They had a three-hour net in the middle, observed by the groundstaff going through their last-day preparations such as getting the advertising hoardings in place and the security personnel going through their drills.
In contrast to the packed schedule of Dhoni's team, New Zealand are coming off a lengthy break and have had two sets of practice games, first in Darwin against Indian state side Maharashtra and then against a couple of teams made up of Sri Lankan fringe players.
Both sides are missing key players but India will start as favourites, particularly given the amount of experience the team has of the conditions in Dambulla. One thing to New Zealand's advantage side is that unlike most subcontinental pitches, Dambulla will favour their pace-heavy attack.
Traditionally, the track is far tougher to bat on under lights than in the afternoon session, due to which the toss assumes plenty of importance.
Form guide(most recent first)
New Zealand: WLLLW
Watch out for...Suresh Raina is coming off a fantastic start to his Test career, and seems to have established himself as the best of the young Indian batsmen battling for middle-order berths. He didn't have the best of times during the Asia Cup, and will want to make amends this time round.
In the absence of Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor's batting form becomes crucial to New Zealand's chances. For a man with little captaincy experience, Taylor also has the added challenge of leading the side.
Team newsAn ankle injury has ruled Ishant Sharma out of the first game which means Abhimanyu Mithun is in line to add to his solitary one-day cap. Dhoni had struggled with a finger problem during the third Test but he said that he expected to play despite being in a bit of pain.
Dinesh Karthik was Man of the Match in the Asia Cup final after making a half-century at the top of the order, but India also have the option of going in with Virat Kohli, who began his India career as an opener during a series in Sri Lanka two years ago.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Dinesh Karthik/Virat Kohli, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Abhimanyu Mithun, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Ashish Nehra
Kane Williamson, the Northern Districts batsman who turned 20 on Sunday, gets the belated gift of a one-day debut on Tuesday. Andy McKay had impressed Daniel Vettori with his pace in a handful of international appearances but he may not get a chance given the presence of Daryl Tuffey, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee and several medium-pace bowling allrounders.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Peter Ingram, 3 Ross Taylor (capt), 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Grant Elliott, 7 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Daryl Tuffey, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Tim Southee/Andy McKay
Pitch and conditionsNo cricket has been played at the Dambulla stadium since the Asia Cup which means there will be plenty of juice in the fresh, greenish track on Tuesday. To balance that is the fact that the boundary ropes have been pulled in at least 10 metres from where there were during the Asia Cup.
Quotes"It is an opportunity for them [Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum] to spend some time with their families. They will come back fresh and strong, it has turned out to be a positive thing for them and for the youngsters as well."
Mark Greatbatch, the New Zealand coach, on playing the tri-series without two of his most important players
"The amount of games we are playing, it is very important to switch off from cricket because 365 days in a year, you can't be thinking only about cricket."
MS Dhoni on coping with the relentless schedule
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo