Virat Kohli as captain of the Indian National team has never lost a bilateral ODI series till date, having recently equaled MS Dhoni’s 9 game unbeaten winning streak in ODIs. But he does have a huge challenge ahead of him if he has to continue his unbeaten run in odis. The Blackcaps have proven themselves to be challenging team in each recently concluded tour and they would step out on the field on Wednesday with the same intention of giving the hosts a tough fight and denying them a series win,unlike the recently concluded Australia series in which the visitors seemed to have no idea of how to counter the Indian spinners in spin friendly tracks.
One of the most vital issues which has to be addressed is the opening slot for which there are 3 equally deserving contenders in the name of Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have clearly been the 2 first choice openers for India and Skipper Virat Kohli with Ajinya Rahane as the 3rd opener. However considering Ajinkya Rahane’s dazzling form of late in which he grabbed the man of the series award in the recently conducted Windies tour and 4 half centuries in 5 games vs the Aussies at home, it might be largely difficult to leave him out of the playing eleven for too long, especially due to the lack of consistency of the first choice openers. Shikhar Dhawan in particular has been short of runs following his absence from the team and will be willing to make an impact in the upcoming 2nd odi vs New Zealand.
The other issue which of late has been a huge burden to Skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri in recently conducted matches is the number 4 slot in which he has already tried out a number of options like KL Rahul,Kedar Jadhav,Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya as well in a couple of matches vs Australia.Fans have also raised the question of promoting MS Dhoni to the number 4 slot which would allow him to bat a bit more freely and add more runs in the later part of the innings at a higher strike rate. MS Dhoni’s sole purpose behind stepping down as Indian Captain was to concentrate more on his batting and the team management’s decision of sending him lower down the order at numbers 6 and 7 makes no sense altogether.
The current Indian team of late has been blessed with a number of quality pacers in Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav,Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Deciding the pace attack for the playing eleven has been a head ache for Skipper Virat Kohli of late. Both Bhubaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah who have proven themselves both with the new ball and at the death but have been found lacking in their ability to take wickets in the middle overs with two well set batsmen at the crease in the 1st ODI match.We might thus witness a change in the pace attack in the upcoming fixture vs New Zealand.
Virat Kohli and Team India will have to sort out the above issues before they step out on the field in a quest to level the series while the visitors eye a series win in India for the first time in India for the first time in their ODI history.