Hardik Pandya's inclusion main talking point ahead of third NZ ODI

Ajit Vijaykumar 19:01 27/01/2019
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India will be looking to wrap up the ODI series against New Zealand in the third match at Mount Maunganui, enjoying a 2-0 lead after crushing wins by eight wickets and 90 runs.

The Kiwis were expected to challenge India more than the Australians in the preceding series and the opposition and conditions were seen as the perfect test of India’s World Cup ambitions in England.

However, the Blackcaps batsmen have been unable to handle India’s varied bowling attack with the two wrist spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal – in particular proving to be a nightmare.

With captain Virat Kohli aiming to wrap up the five-match series before he takes a break, we take a look at the main talking points.

HARDIK PANDYA’S COMEBACK

Hardik Pandya.

Hardik Pandya.

India have had no trouble handing the Kiwi bowling or batting. Their focus will therefore be on their team combination. All eyes will be on whether India include all-rounder Hardik Pandya right away into the playing XI after he was made available for selection after the Baroda player’s provisional suspension was set aside.

Pandya and KL Rahul had been suspended by the Indian board pending investigation into their appearance on a TV show where they made distasteful remarks about their private lives and relations with women while on tour with the national team. They have already missed four games for India and have now been allowed to play again while investigation goes on into their action.

However, Pandya does not have adequate competitive cricket under his belt since injuring his back in the UAE during the Asia Cup in September. His match fitness will be an issue and if the team management thinks Pandya is good to go, he is is likely to replace all-rounder Vijay Shankar.

TIME TO TEST DINESH KARTHIK OR SHUBMAN GILL?

The other issue for the Indian team will be the still problematic No4 batting position. Ambati Rayudu has still not made a lasting impact at that position and was far from convincing in the final 10 overs in the second ODI. It was only some late hitting from MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav that took India beyond 320.

India have a proven middle order performer like Dinesh Karthik and the hugely talented Shubman Gill in the ranks. There is a case of trying either Karthik or Gill out in a match situation when the series is still up for grabs.

If either of the two score runs, then the management can consider having MS Dhoni at Number 4 or 5 and have power hitters like Karthik, Jadhav and Pandya bat around the veteran wicketkeeper.

KIWIS NEED MITCHELL SANTNER

Mitchell Santner.

Mitchell Santner.

New Zealand were not in the game even for a stretch of 10 overs across the first two ODIs. The poor form of veteran batsmen Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson has been the main reason behind their defeats. Not only that, all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme had a horrible game in the second match at Mount Maunganui where he dropped MS Dhoni, went for 62 runs in eight overs and scored just three runs.

Spinning all-rounder Mitchell Santner offers greater control for the Kiwis as it will be the second straight game at the same venue with spinners expected to get help. Three proper seamers and two spinners, plus the all-round skills of Santner and Doug Bracewell should do the job for the Kiwis.

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