India v New Zealand
Saturday October 29, 08:00
TV: live on Sky Sports 3
India will reckon that they should have had the series won by now. Set 261 to win on a decent wicket in Ranchi, they were in charge at 128 for two.
But then they lost their way and the middle-order worries which we have highlighted throughout returned to haunt them. In the end Amit Mishra and Dhawal Kulkarni made things looks tighter than they were with some late hitting.
There are concerns about the form of Rohit Sharma, who has an average of just 13. Manish Pandey hasn't set the world alight while Axar Patel looks too high at No 5. They are missing the nous of Suresh Raina it would seem.
Mandeep Singh could get a game in place of Rohit. Jasprit Bumrah could also return to the XI after missing out last time.
New Zealand owe a great debt to their bowling unit to keep them in this series. They really should have been well beaten by now because their batting has been hugely disappointing.
For the third game out of four they blew a fantastic position. From a foundation of 138 for one in the 26th over a team has to be going on to post 300. India's middle order problems pale into insignificance compared to New Zealand's.
But we can't be too harsh because they have tried to fix it. They have at least jettisoned the underperforming Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi for Anton Devcich and BJ Watling. So maybe their time will come.
With the ball, Tim Southee and Trent Boult were superb. It means Matt Herny may not be recalled for the decider.
There have been just five ODI played at Visakhapatnam. The first-innings scores read: 288-269-289-259-356. All of those matches - apart from the 356 game - were won by the chaser. It seems fair to expect a contest where bat has edge over ball.
India are 1.4840/85 and New Zealand 3.052/1. Even though the hosts have only lost back-to-back home ODIs twice in 11 years, it is impossible to back them at the odds. At those numbers they have to have shown they are overwhelmingly the better team.
As it stands India have proven they are as good as New Zealand. And vice versa. Indeed, they are as flawed as each other. Neither has a middle-order to speak of but both boast potent bowling attacks. Had India picked their best spinners, that would have almost certainly given them the edge.
The pitch then may be the decisive factor. On a flat surface the side batting first has an opportunity to go big and then use scoreboard pressure and the insecurities that have developed to take charge.
We are already on New Zealand to win the series at 3.02/1 so there is little point going in again. But if you need a wager then the Kiwis with the toss in their favour makes sense.
Top India runscorer
Virat Kohli has two centuries on this ground and given his brilliant form - he is averaging 146 - he is hard to argue against. No other India batsman has come close to him this series. He is likely to go off around 3.55/2. MS Dhoni, who also has a ton at the venue back in 2005, is around 5.04/1.
Top New Zealand runscorer
Ground form is always key for batsmen as it boosts their confidence. So how about this for a spot...Devcich notched a first-class ton here in 2013 against India A for New Zealand A. Tom Latham also got a half-century. Devcich is 14/1 with Sportsbook. That's big considering the Kiwis have not convinced. Latham is 9/2.
New Zealand to win series at 3.02/1