Will Dhoni be able to ‘wrap up’ the series in his own backyard : The ODI series is in an interesting stage. While Team India ‘drew first blood’ by winning the opening encounter at Dharmashala by 6 wickets, the Kiwis came back to draw level at the Firoz Shah Kotla, Delhi, winning the game in an ‘end of the seat’ contest by just 6 runs. Young Hardik Pandya almost helped the team ‘reach the podium’ but the lack of experience handling a crunch situation came to the fore.
India came back to win the third game at Mohali when a third wicket partnership between skipper Dhoni (80) and his deputy, Kohli (154*) put paid to all hopes of managing a win for the Black Caps.
Kiwis would have definitely rued the dropped catch of Kohli, at the first slip by Ross Taylor when Kohli had just walked in and had scored 2 runs.
Leading the series 2-1, the home team take on their opposition at Ranchi, the home turf of the Indian skipper.
There is definitely a lot at stake, particularly for Dhoni since there are quite a few in the establishment, ‘baying for his blood’. The Indian skipper would definitely want to be a ‘step ahead’ and would eagerly look forward to silence his distracters by wrapping up the series.
Team India is strongly poised with the batters and bowlers quite high on confidence.
The opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane need to deliver and this is just about the right opportunity. Rohit with 42 runs from three games (averaging 14.0) and Rahane with 66 runs from the equal number of games (averaging 22.0) need to prove their potential. They are definitely capabe of much more than what the numbers say. Hopefully they would rise to the occasion and give a great start, both, while setting up a target or setting one.
With an average of 248 (248 runs from three games and remaining unbeaten twice) and an unbeaten 154* runs as his personal best, thus far in the series, Kohli is sitting pretty at the top of the ‘run-getters’ list. He is one guy who can turn the tables on the opposition at any given point of time.
Kiwis would look to ‘get him’ early on in the innings and not to repeat the mistake they committed at Mohali.
The ‘best finisher’ in the world, Dhoni, is an equal threat to the opposition. Having promoted himself to bat up the order, he can make sure to set up a huge target for the opposition, while batting first, or to take the team atleast to the level ‘hand-shaking’ distance of the target, if not finish the game.
Manish Pandey also strives to put in his best in the available opportunities. He gelled well with Kohli in the previous game at Mohali and remained unbeaten on 28* runs off 34 deliveries, playing the winning stroke.
Hardik Pandya who played a cameo at Firoz Shah Kotla, also can be counted upon for run accumulation if the situation so demands. He can keep up one end and keep the score board moving.
While the batting department looks good, the bowling also is not far behind.
With 8 wickets from 3 games, the veteran leggie, Amit Mishra, is at the top of the ‘wicket-takers’ list in the series, thus far. The wily spinner put all his experience into play and picked up 3/49 at Dharmashala, 3/60 at Firoz Shah Kotla and another 2/46 at Mohali.
The middle overs definitely belong to Mishra who can spin his way around and provide crucial breakthroughs. Kedar Jadhav, who keeps wickets for Maharashtra in the domestic games, also displayed his prowess with the kookaburra, picking up 2/6 at Dharmashala and followed it up with 1/11 at Delhi and 3/29 at Mohali.
The part-time offie has really made life difficult for the Kiwis, beating them time and again with the ‘turn’.
Jasprit Bumrah with his unorthodox action did well to pick up 5 wickets from 3 games and has been very effective in the ‘death’ overs. While the batsmen outlook would be go for the ‘lofts’ in the fag end, Bumrah has been successful in ‘keeping them quiet’.
The only concern in the bowling department has been Umesh Yadav, who went for big runs and is averaging close to 25.00 and a reasonably high economy rate of close to 6. Though he has been successful in generating pace, has been falling short in containing the runs, particularly in ‘the death’. Hopefully the youngster would work out ways to rectify the same.
So overall the team looks in good shape and would want to go all out and wrap up the series at Ranchi.