India will continue their long tour of New Zealand with a high-profile 3-match ODI series. After decimating the hosts in the T20I leg of the tour, the visitors will again start as heavy favourites in the 50-over format. The Men in Blue have been on a roll recently, gaining momentum with each and every passing match. The series in New Zealand will be another opportunity to test themselves, as they try to achieve their aim of world domination across all formats.
Here we take a look at three important factors that will play a vital role in deciding the results:
India’s new-look opening combination
The visitors have been rocked by some high-profile injuries, none more than the loss of their first-choice openers. Prior to the series, Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out after injuring his shoulder in the final ODI against Australia. Now, Rohit Sharma also finds himself on the sidelines with a calf injury suffered in the final T20I in Mount Maunganui.
In their absence, Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw will helm the responsibility of getting Team India off to solid starts. In a scenario rarely witnessed in international cricket, both the players will be making their debuts in a high-pressure match. Despite no one doubting their talents, it will be interesting to see how the pair cope up in the limelight. The Kiwis will certainly target the newcomers as they aim to exact revenge for the embarrassment suffered during the T20I series.
Will the wounded Kiwis show some fight?
India are not the only team to have been hit by the injury bug. The hosts too are enduring the loss of many high-profile players. Their entire pace bowling unit has been ravaged by injuries to Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson. This cost them big time during the T20I series, with a lack of potency being a major factor in the whitewash.
If this was not enough, the Kiwis will be without inspirational skipper Kane Williamson for the first two ODIs. Williamson injured his shoulder, missing the final two T20Is, where the Kiwis sorely missed his presence. Being the undisputed best batsman in the side, the Kiwis simply do not have a like-for-like replacement for him. The whole unit will now have to compensate for his loss, which they failed to do during the T20Is. Will a change of format now bring a turnaround for a battered and bruised unit?
KL Rahul – The Finisher
KL Rahul has donned many hats over the past couple of months, performing exceedingly well in all of the roles. But the matches against New Zealand will be the first full series, where Rahul will play the dual role of keeper and finisher. India have searched long and hard for MS Dhoni’s successor and explored many options. The responsibility has finally fallen on Rahul’s shoulders and he undisputedly remains India’s safest bet. With the golden touch he is in, who will bet against him to continue his glorious run?