It’d be bold to try and predict the outcome of the BLACKCAPS ANZ ODI Series against India.
There’s been some reasonable optimism about the BLACKCAPS form – a solid series against the West Indies, home pitches and the rise to prominence of young players like Corey Anderson and Adam Milne.
You look at the Indian team and immediately notice the lack of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag (to name a few). These names strike fear in any bowling line-up, but a few things need to be recognised before celebrating their omission too much.
Firstly, India are ranked the number one in ODIs for a reason. The cold hard truth of the matter is that this is the top seed facing the eighth seed. India may well take confidence from that, the BLACKCAPS will undoubtedly take inspiration.
And while lesser known, they have continued to produce the great batsman that India are renowned for.
Within their ranks they have three batsmen averaging above 50 in ODIs - MS Dhoni, Virat Kholi and newcomer Ambati Rayudu. While not holding the same average, Rohit Sharma is another to add to the list of dangermen, being one of two people to have scored a double-century in the shorter format.
Last year in six ODIs against Australia, the second highest-ranked team, they scored an aggregate of more than 1800 runs at an average of more than 300 a game. These guys can score runs.
Like the BLACKCAPS their bowlers have a nice balance of experience. Ravindra Jadeja (109 wickets) and Ishant Sharma (100 wickets) return to our shores having had previous success, while supported by a number of fresh new faces. No doubt their seamers will appreciate the nature of the New Zealand wickets.
There is one area where the BLACKCAPS will feel they may have the edge on the Indians and that’s in the field. While much improved, India has never been renowned as a top fielding side, while the BLACKCAPS hang their hats on theirs. A couple of moments of brilliance may be decisive.
The BLACKCAPS will be treading with caution and Brendon McCullum has repeatedly said his side need to show respect. He also knows this is a fantastic opportunity for the BLACKCAPS to take down the number one side in the world
We know only a limited amount about this Indian team – we are about to find out a lot more.