New Zealand seek their first ever series victory in India as they tour the sub-continent for a gruelling 3-match test series and an electrifying 5-match ODI series to be played between September 22 and October 29, 2016.
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On September 11, New Zealand left for India to play a 3-match test series followed by a 5-match ODI series. They will be begin their month-long tour of India with a three-day warm-up game against Mumbai from September 16 ahead of the test series to be played between September 22 and October 12. The ODI series will begin from October 16 and New Zealand will conclude their tour of India with the final ODI on October 29.
Let's take a look at the two teams, starting with the hosts, and the players expected to do well from their respective sides...
They are going in full-strength with a 15-member squad that will be led by Virat Kohli. All the players that had toured the West Indies for the test series have been retained except pacer Shardul Thakur and allrounder Stuart Binny.
Virat Kohli is undoubtedly their best batsman and he will be the key for India in the test as well as the limited-overs series. Averaging 45.06 in tests, he top-scored in the test series in the West Indies and was also among the leading run-getters in New Zealand's 2012 tour of India and India's 2013/14 tour of New Zealand. So expect him to top-score for India in this series. Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara form the other vital constituents of their batting lineup.
Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are the two seamers who can be expected to take wickets for India in this test series. Shami has consistently picked up wickets for his team in test cricket and he took 11 wickets in the West Indies. Ishant was the highest wicket-taker in the test series in New Zealand and he is also the leading wicket-taker for India in tests from the current squad. However, it is off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who will pose the biggest threat to the Kiwi batsmen. He topped the ‘most wickets’ list during New Zealand's last visit to India and on these spin-friendly tracks, he is more likely to finish as the top bowler for his side.
They too have announced a 15-member squad for the test series which will be led by Kane Williamson - their most reliable batsman over the years across all formats. He has four fifties and four hundreds while averaging 47 on Asian grounds. He is currently one of the world's finest batsmen and can give a few headaches to the Indian bowlers on this tour. Another batsman who will be a major threat for India is Ross Taylor. He is the most experienced batsman in the side and knows the Indian conditions very well. He scored the most runs for New Zealand during the 2012 tour of India and his ability to play spin well makes him a valuable asset in the Kiwi batting lineup.
Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner will form their pace attack. Trent Boult and Tim Southee can be expected to do well on this tour. Boult can be dangerous with the new ball as he has the ability to swing the ball in both directions even in unfavorable conditions. Southee was the pick of the Kiwi bowlers in the 2012 tour with eight wickets in the one match that he played. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are the specialist spinners in the squad. The former wreaked havoc against India at the World T20 this year, and his wicket-to-wicket bowling can produce good results on the slow and spinning tracks in India.
India are currently second on the ICC Test rankings while New Zealand have a fair bit of catching up to do as they are lying five places behind India at the seventh spot. Taking a look at New Zealand's recent test form, they have lost three of the their last five series, including a home series against Australia at the start of the year. In their five test matches this year that were not affected by rain, they have wins in only two of them and that too came against minnows Zimbabwe.
India, on the other hand, have exhibited a good test form recently with series wins against Sri Lanka, South Africa (at home) and the West Indies. With seven wins and three draws in their last ten tests, the hosts clearly have had a good run in the longest format of the game.
Head-to-head in India, New Zealand have never won a series from a total of ten test series to be played between the two nations. Till now, they have only managed to draw a series at best on two occasions.
This is arguably the strongest New Zealand side to be touring India and it will be their best chance to pull off their first ever series win in India against the hosts. But we feel that India are going to be strong as ever in their own backyard and therefore, should start as favorites to win this test series.
The test series have been done and dusted with India routing New Zealand 3-0 to claim the top spot in the ICC test rankings. Following their test series wipeout, the visitors will be keen to exact their revenge on the hosts in the upcoming one-day international series which begins on October 16.
Here's a preview of the two teams followed by our prediction for the ODI series….
Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and skipper MS Dhoni will be the key batsmen for the hosts. Rohit Sharma scored the most runs for his team when they hosted South Africa in a five-match ODI series in October last year. We expect him to continue his good work with the bat and finish as the highest run-scorer in this series.
Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav are going to be India's best men with the new ball. Of the two seamers, it is definitely the former who has a better chance of taking the most wickets in this series. Bumrah has taken 11 wickets in his short ODI career of 4 matches and we predict him to be the top bowler for India. With Ashwin and Jadeja rested for the first three games, Amit Mishra and Axar Patel will be in charge of India's spin department.
Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill and Corey Anderson will be the main batsmen for the visitors. Taylor struggled in the tests but should do better in this limited-overs series. Allrounder Anderson is going to be the key for New Zealand as his style is tailor-made for one-day cricket. Williamson is their best batsman and we feel he has a good chance of top-scoring in this series.
New Zealand's pace attack will be led by Matt Henry, Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Southee has a lot of experience of playing on Indian pitches and we expect him to be the most effective against the Indian batsmen. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are the two specialist spinners in the side. Santner had troubled the hosts in the World T20 game and was good in the test series as well. So the Indian batsmen will be a little cautious against him.
Both teams have won their previous ODI series. While India whitewashed Zimbabwe on their turf in a three-match series, New Zealand defeated Australia 2-1 at home. The most recent 5-match ODI series between the two teams was played in New Zealand in 2013/14 where India suffered a crushing 4-0 loss. However, prior to this, the Kiwis had toured India for a 5-match ODI series in 2010/11 where they ended up losing all the games. Moreover, New Zealand have not won a bilateral ODI series in India.
New Zealand will certainly fancy their chances more in this shorter version of the game. But we predict India, who were clinical in the test series, to win this ODI series as well.
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