A new year. A new shirt sponsor. A new look side from the previous tours there, but MS Dhoni had to face similar questions at his first press conference in New Zealand in the lead up to the ODI series, which begins on Sunday.
Not only would Dhoni have to contend with India’s tag of being lambs abroad, but also with the fact that New Zealand are a fast improving ODI outfit. They drew their recent series against the West Indies, and it was a series that was adorned by impressive Kiwi performances.
Here are 5 players to keep an eye out for in the upcoming ODIs:
1. Corey Anderson
How can you ignore someone who, only 2 weeks ago, scored the fastest ever century this format has seen?
Yes, the boundaries were small, but the way Anderson hit the ball at Queenstown was special. Anderson has had many tongues wagging about how far he can go, with his immense ball striking ability, but he is a useful bowling option as well, with his accurate left-arm medium pace not easy to get away.
Anderson has long been earmarked as something special in New Zealand cricket circles, and the India series will surely be a bigger test than the erratic West Indies side he faced on that day in Queenstown.
2. Mitchell McClenaghan
McClenaghan had an awesome 2013 with the ball, and fast rose into prominence, as one of New Zealand’s strike bowlers in ODI Cricket.
The numbers also do justice to the claims. McClenaghan picked up 40 wickets in 15 ODIs in 2013, at an average of 19, with a strike rate of 20 balls per wicket.
Be it with the new ball or at the death, Brendon McCullum has more often than not, turned to McClenaghan and the left arm quick has not disappointed.
3. Jesse Ryder
One of the most heart-warming cricketing stories of 2013 was the return of Jesse Ryder from a horrific head injury that he suffered in a bar brawl early last year. Ryder returned to competitive international cricket in the West Indies ODI series, and he played as well as he has all through his career.
With Anderson, Ryder laid into the West Indies bowling at Queenstown as he made a 50-ball century in a partnership of 191 which came off just 75 balls. Ryder hit the ball really well, and given his record against India, he is someone that will definitely be on MS Dhoni’s radar to have plans against.
4. Ross Taylor
One of New Zealand’s more experienced cricketers now, Taylor is also the man-in-form as far as the Kiwis are concerned. After scoring hundreds in all three Tests against the Windies, Taylor was in good form through the ODI series as well.
Like Ryder, Taylor has also traditionally done well against India, and New Zealand will require their talisman to be up for the challenge, and fire if they’re to have a chance of beating the top ranked ODI side in the world.
5. Tim Southee
Although 2013 was a year when Southee made a considerable impact in Test cricket alongside Trent Boult, Southee also established himself as the Kiwis’ leading bowler in ODIs as well.
Southee’s ability to swing the new ball has been his biggest source of wickets, but his death bowling is also an asset to the side. He is someone who keeps a calm head, and can bowl yorkers at will.
If they come out right, he’s very tough to play. But, if they go wrong, as they did in the World T20 in 2012, Southee can be taken for runs. But, as New Zealand’s most consistent pacer over the past 18 months, Southee will be up for the challenge.