New Zealand’s woes refuse to end, with star batsman and skipper Williamson joining the likes of Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson on the injury list.
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The hosts will also be without regular head coach Gary Stead, who has decided to take a break and handed over his duties to the bowling coach, Shane Jurgensen.
Tom Latham will lead the side in Williamson’s absence and will also take up the wicket-keeping duties. Mark Chapman has been called in as a replacement for Williamson. Also in the mix is the tall and lanky youngster Kyle Jamieson, who could get a look-in. The return of all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme promises to bolster New Zealand’s fragile middle-order.
India, themselves, are not without injury troubles. Joining Shikhar Dhawan is in-form opener Rohit Sharma, who pulled a calf muscle while batting during the fifth T20I and was subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the tour. Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw have been called up to the side and are expected to make their ODI debuts, opening for India with KL Rahul slotting in the middle-order. Mohammed Shami might return to the playing XI after being rested for the last two T20Is.
Remember last time
A depleted New Zealand side had no answer to the rampaging Indian team, which clean swept the T20I series 5-0. India were clinical in all games, and while they faltered at times in the last three matches, they seized the advantage at key moments to turn over New Zealand. Injuries troubled the hosts more with regular skipper Kane Williamson sitting out of the last two games.
In ODIs, these two teams are meeting after the epic ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup semi-final in Manchester in July last year. Played over two days, the semi-final resulted in an 18-run defeat for India after they were bowled out for 221. Prior to the World Cup game, New Zealand were beaten 1-4 by India at home in January-February 2019.
Virat Kohli, captain, India: “In ODIs, we played a really hard-fought series against Australia, we lost the first match, but then came back to win the series 2-1. We will take a lot of confidence from that series, we will try to play positive cricket. We have to believe in our own plans, we know that New Zealand will not give up and we need to be vary of that.”
Shane Jurgensen, coaching staff, New Zealand: “It’s a format we’re familiar with, we’ve performed well, we’ve got some good memories … had some good wins against India – nothing will change. We’ve got guys coming in who have played this format and not the T20s, so they’re going to come in with a fresh set of eyes and we have a good start with our meetings and we’re good to go.”
The conditions in Hamilton promise to be pleasant with a sparse cloud cover. The temperatures will hover in the early 20s (a high of 24-degree celsius) and will dip as the evening approaches. An ODI is being played at this venue more than a year later. The last one-day was played between the same teams on 31 January 2019, with New Zealand winning by eight wickets after Trent Boult ran through the Indian batting line-up that led to the visitors being bowled out for 92.
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