New Zealand v India
Tuesday 11 February, 02:00
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Kiwis home and hosed
New Zealand like playing India, so long as the format is ODI. It's now three wins on the spin against their supposed superiors, including, of course, that semi-final stunner in Manchester in last summer's World Cup.
The two successes in this series have gone to show we cannot write that off as the Kiwis getting the best of conditions. In game one here they chased brilliantly. Then they held their nerve to defend a target, expertly squeezing India.
With the series pouched they can rest Tim Southee, who has been unwell, if they like. Scott Kuggelijn could come in to form an attack with Hamish Bennett and beanpole Kyle Jamieson, who had a superb debut with bat and ball. Kane Williamson need not be rushed back from injury.
Possible XI Guptill, Nicholls, Blundell, Taylor, Latham, Champan, De Grandhomme, Neesham, Jamieson, Kuggeleijn, Bennett
India to ring changes
India had to lose a series sometime. They had not been beaten in a two-team affair since March last year, outing together a sequence of 12 undefeated. It isd hardly surprising it came without Rohit Sharma, their best batter in the format, and Shikhar Dhawan, his opening foil.
There are positives for India. Shreyas Iyer has made the No 4 slot his own. For now. Navdeep Saini also made himself a fixture thanks to showing guts and technique with the bat as he and Ravi Jadeja launched a rescue bid in Auckland.
The dead rubber is more than likely to be used to give the fringe players a game. Manish Pandey, Rish Pant and Shivam Dube have been on the sidelines. Pant and Dube seem easier to slot in for KL Rahul and Kedar Jadav respectively. Jasprit Bumrah could also be rested for Mohammad Shami or Kuldeep Yadav.
Possible XI Shaw, Agarwal, Kohli, Iyer, Pant, Dube, Jadeja, Tahkur, Saini, Chahal, Shami.
Pressure on side batting first
There have been only nine ODIs played at the Bay Oval, all since 2014. Two were back-to-back last year between these two teams. The first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting 1st or 2nd) read: 243-2/324-1/319-1/371-1/223-2/294-1/282-1/230-2/210-2.
From that short study period, it would seem 270-280 is required to be competitive. India won both encounters last January. It was a full-strength India, though. Shami and Kuldeep had influential matches.
Nothing wrong with home trade
New Zealand are expected to go off at around 2.255/4 with India 1.625/8. It's mighty short about a team shorn of key players and well-beaten in the first two encounters.
Their nous in the field will worry most punters. They let the Kiwis off the hook in Auckland when they were in the mire at 197 for eight. Posting 273 was unacceptable from India's point of view, particularly when one recalls the 22-run margin of defeat. They were also pretty toothless defending 348 in Hamilton.
In each of those matches we've identified New Zealand as solid trades from outsider to short favourite. We see no reason to switch strategy, particularly as Virat Kohli sounded very laid back about performances at the start of a new four-year cycle. The weather forecast is good.
Taylor's record strong
Ross Taylor and Tom Latham both made half-centuries in the first of those two games at Bay Oval in January. They both got starts in game two. They get quotes of 3/1 and 17/2 respectively for top New Zealand batsman from Sportsbook.
Taylor is second in the most runs list for the venue with 330 from six. Martin Guptill is top but has played two more matches and notched 347. Notably Taylor's record includes four half-centuries.
Kohli is 12/5 for honours. He managed a fifty and 40-odd in the contests. Pant gets a 7/1 quote. Iyer is 9/2.