Ambati Rayudu under scanner for India as Kiwis search for answers ahead of second ODI

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Ambati Rayudu.

After their crushing win over the hosts in the series opener, India will lock horns with New Zealand once again on Saturday in the second ODI at Mount Maunganui.

In a clash which will be held on India’s Republic Day, the hosts will have it all to do to get themselves back into contention in the five-match series.

Ahead of the second ODI, we take a look at the key talking points.

PANDYA BACK FOR INDIA BUT UNLIKELY FOR SECOND ODI

After being sent home from the tour of Australia without playing an ODI for his controversial remarks on a television show, Hardik Pandya is back in the squad after the interim suspension against him was lifted by the BCCI on Thursday.

The India all-rounder has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons but there is no doubt that he will be key for India in the World Cup. Given how long they have been trying to groom his for the all-rounder’s role, the team management will be desperate to get Pandya back into the thick of things quickly.

However, Saturday’s clash might have come a little too soon for Pandya.

While Pandya is expected to arrive on New Zealand shores at the earliest, Vijay Shankar looks likely to keep the all-rounder’s slot for the second ODI.

Pandya will likely have to wait for the third ODI.

Pandya will likely have to wait for the third ODI.

HOSTS SEARCH FOR ANSWERS TO WRIST-SPIN

New Zealand were in imperious form coming into the series with their 3-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka, but that all counted for nothing as they were bowled out for just 157 by India at Napier.

The batting which was looking so strong came up a cropper with India’s wrist-spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal running rampant. A total of seven New Zealand wickets fell to spin and that will be one of the key issues that skipper Kane Williamson will be looking to rectify in the second ODI.

Even part-time spinner Kedar Jadhav managed to look a threat against the Kiwis at Napier and that does not bode well for the hosts given the pitch had hardly any assistance for the spinners.

It will be up to Williamson and the likes of Ross Taylor to raise their games on Saturday given they are the best players of spin in the Kiwi side.

New Zealand looked poor against the wrist-spinners in Napier.

New Zealand looked poor against the wrist-spinners in Napier.

RAYUDU UNDER THE MICROSCOPE FOR INDIA

Virat Kohli and India have been trying to shoehorn Ambati Rayudu in the number-four spot in the batting order in the run up to the 2019 World Cup in England but doubts have now started to creep in.

Rayudu gave a good account of himself in India’s Asia Cup triumph and looked the part in India’s home series against the West Indies. However, he was extremely poor on the tour of Australia where he was dropped for the series decider after his performances in the first and second ODI.

To add insult to injury, he was also reported for a suspect action by the match officials. In the first ODI against the Kiwis, the right-hander looked extremely rusty as he struggled to generate any timing on the ball.

With young Shubman Gill waiting in the wings for India, time is running out for Rayudu and he will need a big performance soon to keep his spot for the World Cup.

Rayudu needs to find form fast before being axed.

Rayudu needs to find form fast before being axed.

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