New Zealand v India
Thursday 31 January 02.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Kiwis make changes
In an effort to be competitive following three significant beatings, New Zealand have made changes. They had to really. Defeats by eight wickets, 90 runs and seven wickets has meant a series which promised to be a real ding-dong affair has been drab.
James Neesham and Todd Astle come in for Doug Bracewell and Ish Sodhi. Neesham should give them much-needed extra power with the bat as it has been runscoring that has been the issue. The Kiwis are yet to pass 243.
Another idea might be to drop Colin Munro, who has been awful as opener, and move up Tom Latham. But that would most probably mean bringing back Tim Southee and that doesn't really make sense.
Besides, if Munro goes so does Martin Guptill, who has also been struggling. If the Kiwis were going to change an opener they would have surely brought in an extra batter.
Virat Kohli has been rested for the final two ODI and he can sit up with his feet up, knowing the job has been done.
Dinesh Karthik is the man most likely to replace him as India are expected to resist the opportunity to make wholesale changes.
Shubman Gill, an exciting talent, was also in line for the spot but Karthik deserves an audition for a regular spot with a mini competition going on between him and Ambati Rayudu.
Mohammad Shami's workload has been heavy in Australia and in New Zealand and he could probably do with joining Kohli.
Mohammed Siraj is a possibility of getting a game. We don't rate him particularly highly so New Zealand fans should hope the switch is made.
Bat first under lights
In 19 results under lights at Hamilton, 14 have been won by the team fielding first. That's a pretty hefty toss bias. The first innings scores in the last five of those matches (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 284-2/268-2/279-2/207-2/246-1.
Last chance New Zealand?
New Zealand are 2.3211/8 with India 1.748/11. On first impression the price about India looks excellent. But it's the Kohli factor, which has been judged to be worth ten clicks here, that is the big factor.
There is no evidence that India are that worse off without him. In the last five years when he's been missing, India have won 15 from 17 with one tie. But the quality of opposition doesn't make that stat bombroof. It's hard to judge when they played only five games against established sides (Sri Lanka and Pakistan), losing one.
Still, with the toss bias as it is and New Zealand's strongest suit, as we said in game one, chasing then we can make (another) case for them as value. It will probably be for the final time, though.
Last time out at the Bay Oval our Hawk Eye column landed a 4/1 winner when Ross Taylor topped for New Zealand bat. There's nowt wrong with the 7/2 here although some may reckon it's Kane Williamson's turn at 5/2. Taylor made 113 against England at the ground last time out. Tom Latham got a half-century in that game and he is beginning to tune up. He is 8/1 and that is surely too big with Guptill and Munro passengers. Remember Latham was the Kiwi top runscorer in the last two years before this series. Guptill and Munro are available to short with Betfair Sportsbook at 18.5 and 16.5 runs respectively at 5/4.
Rohit Sharma is the 3.185/40 jolly for top India bat on the exchange in the absence of Kohli. He's been the value even with the skipper in the team. Shikhar Dhawan is 3.7511/4. MS Dhoni will attract attention at 7.06/1, likewise Karthik at the same price. Gill is 5.04/1 and he plays he will surely bat at No 3 with India unlikely to break up the Rohit-Dhawan axis.