India v New Zealand
Sunday October 16 2016
TV: live on Sky Sports
This is not India's strongest XI. Partly through choice, partly through injury. Out are Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja, the spin twins, and pace pair Mohammd Shami and Bhuv Kumar.
Only one of those - Kumar - is injured. Ashwin and Jadeja will return for games four and five. It is a risky strategy in the context of a series. The bigger picture is looking at a wider bunch of players.
Amit Mishra and Axar Patel will hope to expose New Zealand's problem against spin, cruelly evident in the Test series. Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav may be the main pacers. Hardik Pandya will look to nail down the seam-bowler all-rounder spot.
With the bat, there is nothing to worry about. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are, of course, the best in the biz. Ajinkya Rahane isn't too shabby, either. Suresh Raina, however, is absent with illness.
The Kiwis will be far more comfortable playing ODI than Test. Any hangover from the whitewash in the long format will almost certainly be forgotten about. This is New Zealand's suit.
Kane Williamson leads a well-balanced squad. Martin Guptill will open and he personifies New Zealand's split personality from Tests to ODI. Hopeless in the former he is potent in the latter.
With the bat Tom Latham will provide some finesse, Luke Ronchi some key experience while there is plenty of power available in the form of Corey Anderson, coming back after injury, and Jimmy Neesham.
Trent Boult is the No 1 rated bowler in the world, Matt Henry is not far behind. Tim Southee is fit again. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are attractive spin options.
We are sweet on the Kiwis as you can read in our series preview here. In short, we rate them value because they are the second-best team in the world going up against the third-best who have not picked their strongest team. It's a bit of a no-brainer really.
There have only been two ODI played at the picturesque Dharamsala. England beat India in 2013 chasing 227. And a year later the hosts defended 330 against the West Indies. In the World T20 in March it looked intolerably slow with the Kiwis putting Australia in a vice when defending 142.
There hasn't been a List A game domestically since 2014. The last five first-dig scores read (1-2 denote game won by side batting first or second): 146-2/247-2/244-1/163-2/181-2. That suggests a low-scoring affair. However, in first-class cricket last year runscoring was very easy indeed.
India are 1.4740/85 and New Zealand 3.052/1. We almost never bet on a price below 1.68/13 so it should come as no surprise to read we will be betting the touring team.
It is easy to make a case for Williamson's crew. The major factor is India's decision to rest key players. Why on earth would we bet on a second string at those odds?
India are a major force at home but it is forgotten that that have actually lost three of their last four series to Bangladesh, South Africa and Australia. Their only win came against Zimbabwe.
It is true we cannot be sure what the Dharmsala pitch will do. It could be a raging turner. It could assist seam and swing. Or it could be a belter to bat on under forecast clear skies. Either way, we are confident New Zealand can trade favourites at the least.
Top India runscorer
Kohli and Sharma are Nos 2 and 7 respectively on the ICC ranking. Kohli is 3.55/2 and Sharma 4.1. Rahane and the impressive Manish Pandey could threaten their superiority at 4.216/5 and 5.59/2 but in truth those two prices are both a point too short. Captain MS Dhoni is 6.05/1. Again, that's at least a point too short.
Top New Zealand runscorer
Guptill is by far and away New Zealand's best batter in the last 12 months. He outscores Williamson by exactly 300 runs. If these two go off level pegging at around 4.03/1, we'd advise Guptill every time. Sportsbook has Willaimson at 3.55/2 and Guptill at 4.57/2. That's a rick. Ross Taylor is struggling big time at the moment and he may be dropped before the series is out.
New Zealand at 3.052/1