Wellington: On a high after comprehensively winning the penultimate fourth ODI, New Zealand, despite losing the series, will hope to end the five-match rubber on a high when they take on India in the final match at the Westpac Stadium here on Sunday.
With regular skipper Virat Kohli rested for the remainder of the tour, India came in for a harsh reality test in seaming conditions during the fourth ODI in Hamilton, where left-arm quick Trent Boult returned 5/21 to bowl the tourists out for 92, their lowest total in New Zealand.
In the absence of injured former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and with the in-form opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan also falling cheaply, India’s inexperienced middle order was clearly exposed by some disciplined New Zealand bowling.
Going in to the final ODI, India will be hoping for their openers to once again provide the platform before Kohli’s replacement Shubhman Gill, who had a forgettable debut in Hamilton, comes in and showcases his talent with the willow.
The onus will be on the middle order – Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya – to come back strong in Wellington, and make their minutes count ahead of the ICC World Cup in England and Wales, this summer.
India’s bowling department led by the pace duo of Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been impressive in the first three wins, while the wrist spin twins — Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav — have also troubled the home batsmen on most occasions in the series.
On the other hand, the hosts will hope for another commanding performance from the bowling department led by Boult and Tim Southee, while expecting the likes of James Neesham, Lockie Ferguson and Mitchell Santner to exert pressure on the Indians.
The responsibility of the batting will once again be shouldered by the veteran Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson, with the explosive Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme and stumper Tom Latham, playing the support role.
India currently lead the series 3-1.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Captain), Trent Boult, James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (WK), Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor
India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, K Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya.
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