The big picture: India vs New Zealand is a battle of the titans
It finally feels like a World Cup year, doesn’t it? In an age of content saturation – with organizers trying to cram as many big events as possible and writers doing their utmost to make you care about their work – something pure happened in Hyderabad on Wednesday night. A game that does not require any big expenditure. A game that stood on its own. A game that will not soon be forgotten…
And already, it’s time to top it, which is why it looks amazing. Because this series – for all the spin put into it – was going to be just another notch in the bilateral cricket calendar. Instead, it has become something that really matters. And It’s gotten kind of funny. There is noise. There is hope. is a thrill. Like we haven’t seen anything yet because imagine even half of what happened in the World Cup two days back.
Shubman Gill was very good. like awesome good. Like, there’s the top and then there’s this. A 23-year-old scoring a double century in the 49th over of an ODI, while single-handedly supporting the rest of his team – and we haven’t even mentioned the opposition. Somewhere in Nakatomi Plaza, John McClane is wrapped up in a ball crying because he is no longer the gold standard of doing the impossible. Children half his age are making fun of him.
But John, listen. Ok. it happens. This game you’ve probably never heard of does this kind of thing all the time. Like, about an hour later, when New Zealand were 131 for 6 chasing 350, this guy named Michael Bracewell was about to shatter everything we held sacred. The coming of age of the golden boy of Indian cricket almost always involves the humility of the opposition. Sunil Gavaskar brought down Gary Sobers. Sachin Tendulkar dismissed Adbul Qadir, Virat Kohli dismissed Lasith Malinga. Gill dismisses Lockie Ferguson. After that, they were supposed to ride until sunset, but they had to wait. He got sweaty.
So here we are still feeling the aftershocks of that game, and an excitement for what’s to come. Because India vs New Zealand is a battle of titans and equals.
India WWWWW (Last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
new zealand LWWLW
In the spotlight: Hardik Pandya and Glenn Phillips
Once upon a time, hardik pandya Will walk into the cricket ground and start hitting boundaries. He would come to press conferences, stop immediately after Marlon Samuels sang, and say with a completely straight face that “I can hit a six whenever I want.” Now, five years later, a father and a future leader, some of that fire has been doused. Two of his four slowest ODI innings (minimum 30 balls faced) have come in the last week. Both on tough pitches and in winning reasons. India will be hoping their gap all-rounder is adding to their game, and not necessarily compromising as the old Hardik used to strike fear into the opposition – which is terrible enough – but will feed it one-on-one. Fear until nothing seemed beyond his reach.
We’ve all noticed that there’s something about Steven Smith Glen Phillips, Right? In his attitude in his backlift. That’s how he refuses to take a run. There is a possibility that he has copied one of the rarest batsmen of our times, just to maximize the one thing he has that Smith doesn’t. Pure, beautiful power. The guy claims to do 800 press-ups a day so that thing can tear him apart. Hitting a six West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have all seen how destructive he can be – even in dire situations. India could also get to see this at some point in this series.
Team News: Will India try Malik? Is Sodhi back to fitness?
The ball was not in India’s favor in the middle overs in Hyderabad. Will this tempt them to bring in Umran Malik? On the contrary, it is speed. The downside is that their batting depth takes a big hit if he comes in for Shardul Thakur.
India (Probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ishan Kishan (wk), 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Ish Sodhi, currently out with an ankle injury, is tracking well according to New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi. A call will be taken later on his joining.
new zealand (Probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Henry Nicholls, 4 Daryl Mitchell, 5 Tom Latham (c & wk), 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Michael Bracewell, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Ish Sodhi/Henry Shipley, 10 Doug Bracewell, 11 Lockie Ferguson
Pitch and conditions first ODI in Raipur
Over 50,000 spectators are expected to sell out on the occasion of the first ever ODI in Raipur. The city is also in the running to host the women’s IPL matches in March. Looks like good things don’t just happen to those who wait, but to stadiums as well. No one is really sure how the pitch will behave although Mitchell Santner suspects it has more bounce than Hyderabad. Dew will once again play a role on the day with temperatures dropping to 31C in the afternoon and then 21C in the evening. There is no chance of rain.