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Making his maiden voyage to our shores, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be an unfamiliar name for many during the BLACKCAPS’ National Bank Series with India. Although he first represented his country in the 2004/05 season, he’s played only a handful of limited overs matches against the BLACKCAPS, and never on our home soil. But in India, the handsome 27-year-old national skipper is a rockstar.
His rise to fame and fortune has had something of a fairytale air about it. He wasn’t an overnight sensation, taking four seasons to establish himself on the first-class scene to the point where he could seriously push for international stripes. Yet in just his fifth ODI, against Pakistan, he was the name on every cricket-mad Indian’s lips as be blitzed his way to 148 runs, then broke Adam Gilchrist’s record for the highest ODI score by a wicketkeeper with an innings of 183 not out against Sri Lanka.
Having replaced Rahul Dravid as captain in late 2007 Dhoni found himself leading his country to its maiden tri-series crown in Australia, considered to be one of the hardest one-day trophies for a touring side to win.
The Dhoni success story has continued pretty much unabated.
Already this year, his Indian outfit has reminded everyone that they can be a dangerous One-Day International side by trouncing Sri Lanka 4-1.
Indian opener Gautam Gambhir scored a career-best 150 in that series, showing increased self-assurance and stabilising the potent top order. Sachin Tendulkar, by contrast, had a trying start to 2009, receiving three controversial umpiring calls in a row before being frustratingly “rested” for the final two matches of the series. That may not be the best of news for New Zealand cricket supporters, since that kind of surreal misfortune usually only serves to make a batsman even more fired up to restore his pride - and batting average.
With Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Dhoni all notching centuries on the Sri Lankan expedition, it makes for a power-packed Indian batting line-up with plenty of recent form. Roll in Pragyan Ojha’s economy rate and the surprise factor of a bunch of young seam bowlers unfamiliar to the BLACKCAPS and it’s a capable Indian unit - provided both batsmen and bowlers adjust quickly to New Zealand conditions, which will be new territory for many of them.
India’s full ODI squad is: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh (the key spinner returning to the team after a hamstring operation), Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha and Dinesh Karthik (second wicketkeeper). The five-match National Bank ODI Series will take in Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland.
NZ v India ODI Statistics:
Home advantage is everything:
- NZ has won 16 of 24 One Day Internationals played against India in NZ
- India has 16 victories from 22 games played against NZ in India
Last series and rankings:
- NZ took out the last ODI series between the two countries here in NZ in 2002/03, by 5 games to 2
- India is third on the ICC ODI rankings, just one place above New Zealand
India’s batsmen v NZ bowlers?:
- M S Dhoni is the number one ranked ODI batsman in the world, with teammate Yuvraj Singh at three
- Dan Vettori is the number one ranked ODI bowler in the world, with teammate Kyle Mills at three