NZ’s beasts back for ODIs af­ter In­dia test maul­ing

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

New Zealand will wel­come back their most suc­cess­ful bowler and most de­struc­tive bats­man Sun­day at the start of a five-match ODI se­ries against a be­low-strength In­dia af­ter a maul­ing in the Tests. Tim Southee, whose 135 one-day wick­ets put him at the top of the chart of New Zealand’s cur­rent play­ers, missed the re­cent three­match Test se­ries with an an­kle in­jury as his team-mates were white­washed by their hosts. But the 27-year-old’s re­turn should give the Black Caps a much-needed boost for the se­ries opener in the Hi­malayan hill sta­tion of Dharam­sala where the chill­ier con­di­tions will be far more fa­mil­iar for the tourists.

Corey An­der­son, who has the high­est strike of any New Zealand player in ODI his­tory, is back from an an­kle in­jury to bol­ster the bat­ting at a ground where New Zealand en­joyed one of their most sat­is­fy­ing re­cent wins. Back in March, New Zealand beat arch ri­vals Aus­tralia at the pic­turesque Dhara­masala ground by eight runs in the World Twenty20, gain­ing a mea­sure of re­venge for their de­feat in last year’s 50 over World Cup fi­nal.

An­der­son and Southee’s re­turn gives a more ex­pe­ri­enced look to a tour party which coach Mike Hes­son ad­mits are “in a trough” and need “to move on pretty quickly” from their Test dis­ap­point­ment. Southee, who has not played an ODI for New Zealand this year, said “the guys were hurt­ing a bit” af­ter the Test dis­ap­point­ment but pre­dicted a close ODI se­ries which he was par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to.

“It’s never nice to be in­jured and hav­ing to watch so it’s ex­cit­ing to get back out there,” he told New Zealand Cricket’s web­site. “We can’t dwell on it (the de­feat in the Tests) too much, we have an im­por­tant one day se­ries ahead that ev­ery­one is look­ing for­ward to and I think (it) will be a very evenly con­tested one day se­ries. “We’ve shown in the last wee while that we’re a good one day side and we’re look­ing to al­ways im­prove that record away from home as well and there’s no bet­ter place to do it than in one of the harder places to tour.” While the re­turn of Southee gives New Zealand more op­tions, their hosts will be ham­pered by the ab­sence of sev­eral of their lead­ing bowlers.

In­dian stars rested

Key spin­ners Ravichan­dran Ash­win and Ravin­dra Jadeja are be­ing rested for the first three matches as is pace­man Mo­hammed Shami who is build­ing up his fit­ness af­ter a long lay-off. Medium pacer Bhu­vnesh­war Kumar, nurs­ing a back strain, was also left out of the squad along with vet­eran Ishant Sharma who missed the whole se­ries af­ter con­tract­ing the mos­quito-borne dis­ease chikun­gunya.

Un­capped off-spin­ner Jayant Ya­dav, lef­t­arm spin­ner Axar Pa­tel and medium-pacer Jasprit Bum­rah have in­stead been given the chance to im­press af­ter be­ing named in the squad. And In­dia’s bat­ting line-up has been weak­ened by the loss of vet­eran Suresh Raina with a vi­ral in­fec­tion and the opener Shikhar Dhawan, who has a bro­ken thumb.

Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni will re­turn to lead the side, mean­ing Test cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli goes back into the ranks, his con­fi­dence high af­ter hit­ting a ca­reer best 211 against the Black Caps last week­end. Dhoni, whose last sig­nif­i­cant ODI in­nings was an un­beaten 92 against South Africa in Oc­to­ber 2015, needs a strong show­ing to si­lence crit­ics who say it’s time for Kohli to take over in short-form cricket as well.

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