October 16, 2016
Start time 1330 local (0800 GMT)
Off the top of your head, it might be difficult to remember when New Zealand last played an ODI. Number nuts would tell you it was eight months ago, but perhaps the fact that it was Brendon McCullum's final ODI appearance has more instant recall value. Things aren't too dissimilar in the opposite camp. Amid a heavy diet of T20s and Tests, India have not played too many games in the 50-over format. You'd have to go back to Australia in January for any ODIs India have played against top teams this year; that series aside, the only other ODIs they've had this year was when a second-string side visited Zimbabwe in June.
For both the teams, this five-match ODI series has both immediate and long-term relevance. While the 2017 Champions Trophy is the common bigger agenda, New Zealand would also dearly want to finish the tour on a high and help the scars of the 3-0 Test defeat heal.
The visitors have seemingly not let that Test drubbing get to them, keeping it light with generous humour at practice and a bit of gushing over Dharamsala's gorgeous mountains. In a season where they play 24 ODIs before the Champions Trophy begins in June next year, their build up, as Luke Ronchi suggested, is expected to be gradual with different players being rested and newer players tried out at different stages.
India, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of time in this format - they play only eight ODIs from now till June. India captain MS Dhoni, who usually frowns upon any reference to experimentation, admitted they have a limited window to audition players and hit upon their best combination. It is possible every member of India's 15-man squad will get a game at some point in this series.
India WWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand WLWWW
In the spotlight
Corey Anderson will be relieved to return to competitive cricket after being out of action for more than six months. Given that his previous international series (the World T20) was in India, where he has also tasted considerable success in IPLs past, Anderson might be quite comfortable with the venue of this comeback series. While he has been bowling in the nets, for now his role in the team will be restricted to batting in the middle order, where his late-order hitting could prove decisive.
Hardik Pandya has had a brief but eventful T20I career so far. After decent performances in the Asia Cup and the World T20, Pandya's loss of form in the IPL led to his omission for the Zimbabwe tour. Despite a mediocre outing with the India A side in Australia, the selectors have shown confidence in his all-round abilities and now he is set for an ODI debut. Should he click here, the team management will breath a lot easier about the seam-bowling allrounder's position.
India don't have the services of another comeback man, Suresh Raina - he is recovering from fever. Going by the batting and bowling sequence in India's practice session, Mandeep Singh and Umesh Yadav are likely to sit out. On the eve of the game, Kedar Jadhav had a lengthy batting stint followed by a brief session of offspin bowling, which suggests he might be called upon to bowl a few overs in the middle stages if required. Despite bowling for nearly three-fourths of India's nets session, it seems likely that Jayant Yadav will be superfluous to a side that has two other spinners in Amit Mishra and Axar Patel. MS Dhoni indicated he will bat slightly higher up the order, possibly at No. 5.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Dhawal Kulkarni
The last time New Zealand came to India they sprung a surprise by playing three spinners in their opening game. There was not much that could be gleaned from their practice sessions on their probable XI, but there will likely be a toss-up between Ish Sodhi and either Matt Henry or Tim Southee for the second seamer's position.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Tom Latham, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Corey Anderson, 6 Luke Ronchi, 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Ish Sodhi/Matt Henry
Pitch and conditions
In the lead up to the game, Dharamsala has remained fairly warm during the day before becoming considerably cooler after sunset. The forecast for Sunday is on similar lines. HPCA chief curator Sunil Chauhan said the surface will be seamer-friendly, but aid stroke-play. "I'm hoping for a 270-plus score," he said. "The idea was to prepare a pitch that remains good for 100 overs. Dew is likely to set in by the end of the first innings and that it might help the chasing side.
Stats and trivia
India will play their 900th ODI when they face New Zealand in Dharamsala
New Zealand have never won a bilateral ODI series in India
Ross Taylor has the highest run aggregate (666 from 18 matches) among active players in matches played between India and New Zealand
"India is all about winning. Let's be frank. When the media talks about stuff, you only want the Indian cricket team to win. [So] it becomes difficult. If you see at the batting order, if you rest Virat or Ajinkya for a couple of games, you'll be like 'what's really happening, why are they given rest'."
MS Dhoni on the difficulty of experimenting to find the best combination
"It is a completely different ball game now and it is a format where we have played good cricket over the last few years. As much as we wanted to do well in those Tests, it is gone now and now we have to focus on the five ODIs."
Luke Ronchi is confident of New Zealand scrapping hard in the shorter format