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On their triumphant tune against Sri Lanka and Australia, a confident India now will eye on New Zealand. India’s Kiwi encounter will kick off in the opening match of the three-match One-day International (ODI) series at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday. This face-off would be the very definition of a tug of war.

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Hindustan Times

The Virat Kohli-led side will have one eye on reclaiming the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings. Especially after being pushed to the second position by South Africa it seems much revival task to attain. India and South Africa have identical 120 ratings against their name. But the men-in-blue placed second on the basis of the decimal points.

Going into the first ODI against the Kiwis, India will once again bank on their strong batting lineup. The skipper along with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it blurs out prominence. With the opening conundrum sorted and Kohli settled at No.3, now it’s interesting to see who comes out at No.4. Recently, India has experimented a number of youngsters including all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav for the slot. Overall it serves as a critical link between the top and lower middle-order.

Recently Pandya has shone with a match-winning unbeaten 78 against Australia at first go. Pandey has got the longest run of the lot despite his unflattering numbers and especially with an in-form Dinesh Karthik. With this recall for this series, it will be interesting to see who gets to bat at No.4.

The bowling department now signifies a settled unit with limited overs specialists — Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah — cementing their places. Rookie Shardul Thakur finds himself in the team based on his recently concluded ‘A’ series against New Zealand. But all eyes will be on India’s newfound wrist spin twins — Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. These are the two sensations who made life difficult for the Aussies in the recently concluded series. They will surely pose a challenge for the Kiwis, considering their past record against Indian spinners.

On the other hand, New Zealand will hope the experienced Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson shouldering the batting responsibility. But their batting options also include the likes of Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, and Colin Munro. Latham and Taylor started the tour with brilliant centuries in the practice tie against the Board President’s XI. And because of which this side looks confident going into the series opener.

Pace bowling wise though, New Zealand seem settled with Trent Boult having already picked a five-for in the first practice game. Tim Southee and Adam Milne form the rest of the battery while Matt Henry joins them over from the ‘A’ tour. Left-arm Mitchell Santner will be the first-choice spinner for the tour. Therefore, De Grandhomme’s utility with the ball could reduce if Munro chips in with a few useful seam-ups.

Squads:

India:

Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur.

New Zealand:

Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wicket-keeper), Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, George Worker.

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