After New Zealand cruised to a comfortable four wicket victory over India in Hamilton in the first of three ODIs, India will hope to bounce back at Eden Park, Auckland in the second ODI to keep the series alive and be in with a chance of winning the series after a 5-0 sweep in the T20Is. Here, we take a look at the key battles that will determine which way the match at Eden Park could swing.
KL Rahul vs Hamish Bennett
KL Rahul has undoubtedly found his niche in the Indian cricket team, with not many people now questioning his presence in the XI. He has managed to find consistent form with the bat, and his contributions with catches and stumpings behind the wicket have currently made him indispensable to the side. Rahul hit a brilliant 88* off just 64 balls in the last ODI to propel India to the score that they reached. However this time, it might be the case that Hamish Bennett and Rahul go up against each other towards the death overs, when Bennett just has a few overs left to execute his yorkers to perfection. The Kiwi can really stem the flow of runs with Rahul's wicket. Can he step up and deliver when it matters?
Jasprit Bumrah vs Henry Nicholls
Henry Nicholls was as important as Ross Taylor in New Zealand's successful run-chase against India in the last ODI, with his 78 off 82 balls providing the perfect foil to the batsman at the other end to execute his shots. He was run-out brilliantly by Virat Kohli, but the Indian bowlers including Bumrah will have to work just as hard to dislodge him from the crease. If Bumrah can get one of his full, swinging deliveries to Nicholls early on when the batsman has not settled down, it could provide India with an early breakthrough in whichever innings New Zealand are batting. But if not, Nicholls is the kind of character to consolidate and play a long innings. Much to look forward to here.
Virat Kohli vs Scott Kuggeleijn
With Kohli dismissed for a well-made 51 in the last ODI to the guile of Ish Sodhi, the Indian skipper would be looking at making a much bigger contribution to the team this time around. That the result also did not go India's way would privately irk him, even after he acknowledged that New Zealand were the much better side on the day. Over the years though, Kohli has unexpectedly gotten dismissed to bowlers who one would not be classified as ones to trouble Kohli on paper. Facing the unpredictable Scott Kuggeleijn presents the same kind of prospect. He gets through his overs quick in the middle overs, and is good at consistently hitting the same line and length with an element of surprise thrown in. This will be one of the most interesting matchups to watch in the second ODI.
Ravindra Jadeja vs Colin de Grandhomme
Colin de Grandhomme is a no-nonsense, hit-the-deck bowler who relies on the amount of consistent effort he puts into his bowling actions to reap the rewards. Provided the pitch gives assistance, de Grandhomme is someone who is is brilliant at mixing his deliveries up and reading the batsman's mind. This is what makes it such a fascinating encounter, where Jadeja (who also bowls in similiar circumstances) will be able to see things from a bowler's perspective and execute his plans accordingly. If the Indian all-rounder gets set, there aren't many bowlers who can dislodge him easily. Another death overs battle is on the cards, one that promises to be fascinating one in a do-or-die encounter for India.