Can New Zealand challenge India's strong home record?
Three days after beating Sri Lanka 3-0, Rohit Sharma's men are up against their next opponent
Big picture: India dominant in ODIs at home tooIt isn't spoken about as much as their remarkable home record in Test cricket, but India are perhaps just as dominant in ODIs in their own conditions. Since the start of 2010, they've played 25 bilateral home series, and won 22 of them.
This record takes on extra significance in 2023, given that India are building towards hosting a World Cup. They've begun the year in ominous manner, sealing a 3-0 series victory over Sri Lanka with the biggest win in ODI history.
They could now be in for a stiffer challenge, though. New Zealand have been among the most competitive ODI sides to visit India of late - their two most recent series here in 2016 and 2017 both went into deciders - and they're fresh from winning 2-1 in Pakistan.
But with Kane Williamson and Tim Southee rested for this series and with Trent Boult's international career in freelance limbo, this New Zealand side is light on experience, particularly in Indian conditions. They are in for quite a task, particularly their bowlers who are up against a batting line-up that has posted totals of 373 and 390 the last two times India have batted first.
But New Zealand will know India can be beaten, even in subcontinental conditions, and they might look at Bangladesh - who beat India 2-1 at home just over a month ago - for clues as to how to do so. Quality spin that attacks the stumps could be a key ingredient.
Either way, win or lose, New Zealand will want to take away as many insights as they can before they return for the World Cup. A strong performance now could put them in just the right space to mount a serious title challenge in October-November.
Form guideIndia WWWWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
New Zealand WWLWL
In the spotlight: Chance for Kishan to make his caseIndia have made it clear that their preferred opening combination leading up to the World Cup is Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. It leaves no room in their first-choice XI for Ishan Kishan, whose last ODI innings was the fastest double-hundred in the format. But he gets an opportunity now with KL Rahul missing the series for personal reasons. If he can grab this chance, he won't just keep putting pressure on multiple batters in India's ODI line-up but also make a case to be selected ahead of KS Bharat in the first Test against Australia next month.
Tom Latham loves India. He averages 65.07 against them across 17 ODI innings, while striking at 98.93, and he's tormented their spinners for years at home and away with his array of sweeps. His last innings against India was a match-winning, unbeaten 145 off 104 balls in Auckland in November, and he'll want to carry on from where he left off especially since he'll have the extra responsibility of captaincy in Williamson's absence.
Team news: Iyer out with back injuryShreyas Iyer has been ruled out of the series with a back injury, and Rajat Patidar has taken his place in the squad. Iyer's spot in the XI, however, is likely to go to Suryakumar Yadav, with Kishan taking the keeping gloves and the other middle-order slot from Rahul. Washington Sundar is likely to come in for Axar Patel, who's also sitting out this series.
With Hardik Pandya set to return after being rested for the third ODI against Sri Lanka, India could go two ways with their attack - three specialist quicks plus Hardik, which will leave them having to choose between Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, or three spinners, in which case they can pick both wristspinners.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Ishan Kishan (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Umran Malik.
New Zealand played a three-spinner attack when they won the last two ODIs on their recent tour of Pakistan, but they won't be able to stick to that combination in Hyderabad with Ish Sodhi ruled out, having failed to recover in time from an ankle injury he suffered during the third ODI in Karachi. Glenn Phillips, however, has recovered from the virus he suffered on that tour. New Zealand's main selection decisions are around who fills in for Williamson and Southee.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Mark Chapman/Henry Nicholls, 4 Daryl Mitchell, 5 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Michael Bracewell, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 and 10 two out of Henry Shipley, Doug Bracewell and Jacob Duffy, 11 Lockie Ferguson.
Pitch and conditions: Hyderabad pitch likely to aid spinIn six ODIs at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, spinners have averaged 38.70 and conceded 4.96 runs per over, both significantly better than the fast bowlers' corresponding figures (though it must be noted that they bowl more overs in the difficult phases) of 40.84 and 5.74. In the most recent ODI here, in March 2019, India won by six wickets after their spinners - Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Kedar Jadhav - returned combined figures of 27-0-110-3 to restrict Australia to 236. Expect spin, therefore, to play a significant role on Wednesday. The weather is set to be clear, with a maximum temperature of 31 degrees Celsius.
Stats and trivia
- Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are the joint-fastest India batters to the 1000-run mark in ODIs. Both took 24 innings to get there. Shubman Gill, who currently has 894 runs from 18 innings, has a chance to claim the record during this series.
- The last time New Zealand played an ODI in India without Tim Southee or Trent Boult in their line-up was in December 2010.
- Since the start of 2022, Mohammed Siraj is the leading wicket-taker among bowlers from Full Member teams. He has taken 33 wickets in this period, at an average of 19.87.
- India will become the No. 1-ranked ODI side if they win the series 3-0. If they also win the T20I series, and then beat Australia by a 2-0 or 3-1 scoreline or better in the Test series in February-March, they will become the No. 1 side across formats.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo