After securing a historic series win against Australia, India will turn their attention to New Zealand when they take on the Black Caps in the first of five one day internationals at McLean Park in Napier on Wednesday.
Withe just 6 months left for the mega event, the visitors are still in search of a perfect, balanced middle order combination. Ambati Rayudu looked completely out of sorts at No 4 spot in the first two games against the Aussies and was axed for the decider in Melbourne, where India appeared to field their best balanced squad, with Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar both playing vital roles in their win.
Team India would have also been happy with Mahendra Singh Dhoni returning back to form, with the veteran scoring three consecutive fifties against Australia to be named Player of the Series. India would be hoping for him to continue the same form against the Kiwis. This will be a good test for Dhoni, especially if games played across the Tasman end up with scores above 300, as many expect them to.
The last time the two teams faced each other in a bilateral series in this format was in the year 2017 where India defeated the Kiwis 4-2.
The only worry for the visitors would be the form of Shikhar Dhawan- he has had starts but not quite been able to get going. The visitors would be hoping that the 33 year old left hander gets his mojo back sooner than later.
The talented Shubman Gill has been selected in the squad in place of suspended Lokesh Rahul. It will be interesting to see if he gets some game time in New Zealand, having impressed in the same country a few weeks back with the India A team.
The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami have been sensational so far and would be hoping to get support from the third seamer, which could potentially be one of Mohd Siraj or left armer Khaleel Ahmed.
Yuzvendra Chahal who was omitted for the first 2 one dayers against Australia, was picked ahead of Kuldeep at the MCG and picked up six wickets, equalling the best ever performance by a spinner in the country..
On the other hand the New Zealand top order looks formidable, with the likes of Martin Guptill, skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor all in very good nick.
In the bowling department the pacy Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi will all be a force to reckon with in their own backyard.
India likely XI
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (capt), MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, 8 Ravindra Jadeja/Kuldeep Yadav/Khaleel Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal.
New Zealand Likely XI.
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme/Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson/Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult and Ish Sodhi