Mumbai: India would begin as the overwhelming favourites when they take on New Zealand in the first of the three-match ODI series beginning at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
It was just last year that the Indian team defeated the Kiwis at a same time and thus, this year they would look forward to doing the same as well. After a disastrous final of the Champions Trophy, the Indian team has recuperated well and have demolished their opponents in ODIs. They defeated West Indies 3-1, routed Sri Lanka 5-0 and also hammered Australia 4-1 at home.
The best part about all this is the fact that the entire team has performed collectively as a unit. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, the men in blue have been spot on and the results prove that. On the bowling front, the wrist-spinners-Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have done exceedingly well and won matches for India in the past few series.
Jasprit Bumrah along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar too have formed a potent combination which would once again be a tough nut to crack for the opposition.
But New Zealand cannot be counted out completely. During their last visit to India, they had defended scores 242 and 260 to put up a fight in the ODI series which they eventually lost 3-2. Their team boasts of names like left-armers Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner and also guys like Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and Colin Munro, who can take away the game completely on a given day.
Even Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma is wary of the threat someone like a Boult could pose and hence, this series promises us of an interesting contest between bat and ball.
It would be interesting to see who skipper Virat Kohli (who would be playing his 200th ODI match) and the team management decide to send in to bat at the no. 4 position. Veteran Dinesh Karthik remains in the contention for that spot while Manish Pandey is more likely to get a game. Also, Shikhar Dhawan is expected to be back in the side after missing the series against Australia and a thing to watch out for is whether the in-form Ajinkya Rahane gets a game on his home ground or not.