There has been nothing to separate the two sides so far in the three-match series with Australia taking the honours in Sydney before India bounced back with a six-wicket win in Adelaide.
With all to play for at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), we take a look at the key talking points ahead of the clash.
AUSSIES TURN TO STANLAKE AND ZAMPA FOR DECIDER
India will have to face the pace threat posed by Billy Stanlake in the decider with Jason Behrendorff ruled out with an injury. Kane Richardson has been called up as a fast-bowling cover, but it is Stanlake who has got the nod to make the playing XI for Friday.
Along with Stanlake, leg-spinner Adam Zampa too has been included in the playing XI after missing out on the first two ODIs. Lyon was preferred ahead of Zampa in Sydney and Adelaide, but the off-spinner has been given a rest for the final ODI.
While Lyon has been decent in the two ODIs so far, Zampa will present a greater wicket-taking threat for the hosts and has shown that he has the ability to trouble India’s batsmen including Kohli in the past.
Australia struggled for wickets at the top and in the middle overs at Adelaide. The inclusions of Stanlake and Zampa could be the perfect remedy to that problem.
INDIA GRAPPLE WITH SELECTION DILEMMAS
While India will be riding high on confidence following their convincing win at the Adelaide Oval, there are a few selection headaches facing Virat Kohli heading into the decider.
Pacer Mohammed Siraj was highly expensive in his ODI debut and gave away 76 runs in his 10 overs without picking up a single wicket. It was Khaleel Ahmed who had been given the nod as the third pacer in the series opener, but the left-armed seamer has been equally expensive with figures of 0-55 from his eight overs.
The third pacer’s slot is not the only tricky selection facing Kohli given India’s sixth bowler woes so far in the series. When Ahmed leaked runs in Sydney, India were forced to turn to the part-time spin of Ambati Rayudu.
However, with Rayudu being reported for a suspect action, India did not have any extra options to play with in Adelaide when Siraj was being tonked to all parts of the ground.
As such, Kohli could be tempted to draft in Kedar Jadhav or Vijay Shankar to provide some contingency bowling options at Melbourne.
AUSTRALIA CHASE FIRST SERIES WIN IN 24 MONTHS
Friday will present hosts Australia the chance to capture their first ODI series win in over two years. Australia’s last series win in the format came all the way back in January, 2017 when they beat Pakistan 3-0 at home.
Since then, the Aussies have tasted series defeats against New Zealand, India, South Africa and twice against arch-rivals England. They crashed out early in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy as well in England.
The bans meted out to Steve Smith and David Warner has not helped matters for Australia, but a series win against the No2 ranked Indians will give them a big confidence boost ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England.
Aaron Finch and his men will be desperate to give the home fans a reason to celebrate after their defeat in the preceding Test series.
The left-armed spinning all-rounder was named in the 14-man New Zealand squad for the first three ODIs against India which take place later this month.
Santner had been sidelined for a prolonged period with a knee injury but proved his fitness in a one-off T20 against Sri Lanka earlier this month. Also making a return to the one-day squad is Tom Latham who takes over the wicketkeeping duties from Tim Seifert.
All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme has been recalled to the ODI outfit after being rested in the preceding series against Sri Lanka.
Blackcaps coach Gary Stead is hoping to use the five-match series against the Indians as a preparation board for the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.
“Our two main priorities have been to select and prepare a squad capable of winning what is shaping as a massive series against India, and gathering as much information as possible ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales,” Stead stated.
The first ODI between New Zealand between New Zealand and India will be held at Napier on January 23 with the final match of the series set to take place on February 3. The five ODIs will be followed up by a three-match T20 series.
NEW ZEALAND 14-MAN SQUAD
Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham (wk), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
New Zealand’s cricket and rugby stars will now be playing for the Lomu-Crowe trophy in their inaugural ‘Black Clash’ T20 match to commemorate the two sporting icons of the country.
In a homage to former New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe and former All Blacks stalwart Jonah Lomu, the winning team from the inaugural clash will be feted with the trophy named after the two sporting greats.
Christchurch’s Hagley Oval will be the setting for the hotly anticipated T20 clash between former and current players of New Zealand’s rugby and cricket teams. Team Rugby is being led by current All Blacks skipper Kieran Read and includes star outside back Israel Dagg along with siblings Beauden and Jordie Barrett.
It also includes former All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw while former Australia batsman David Hussey has been picked as the international wildcard.
Team Cricket are led by former Blackcaps skipper Brendon McCullum and includes the likes of Chris Harris, Luke Ronchi, Nathan Astle, Grant Elliot and James Franklin. McCullum’s men are yet to pick their international wildcard for the tie which takes place on January 25.
The event has been conceptualised by former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming along with Duco Events director David Higgins. The proceeds from the T20 clash is set to go to the New Zealand Cricket and Rugby Players Associations to help with player welfare needs.
The Lomu-Crowe trophy was unveiled by the organisers on Wednesday with Higgins expressing his delight at the chance to honour the two New Zealand legends.
“It’s truly fitting that the names of these two national heroes have pride of place on what is a wonderful, iconic piece of Kiwi art,” Higgins was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.
“I’ve always believed that Martin and Jonah have not been fully recognised for the contribution they made to the country through their tremendous deeds on and off the sports field. Both Martin and Jonah were men whose achievements transcended the sports field. So to be able to honour them even in a small way by naming the T20 Black Clash trophy the Lomu-Crowe trophy just feels right,” he added.