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    Written by Cheteshwar Pujara

    IND vs NZ ODI series preview: One more opportunity for Indian youngsters to shine

    November 24, 2022

    The T20 series vs New Zealand, despite the rain playing spoilsport on more than one occasion, must have been a wonderful experience for the young players in the India squad. Men In Blue deservingly won the series; and had the weather been cricket-friendly, we might have had a more closely fought competition. Nevertheless, there were many positives, from India’s perspective.

    From Suryakumar Yadav continuing his good form to Hardik Pandya batting and leading exceptionally well, India ticked many boxes. Bowlers’ contribution cannot be ignored either. Arshdeep Singh was very good with the ball again. Even Deepak Hooda chipped in with wickets in the 2nd T20, which was great to see.

    Our young team is gaining the confidence, and this is good news for Indian cricket keeping in mind the next T20 World Cup. The focus now shifts to the ODIs where New Zealand will surely look to bounce back.

    Williamson and Conway key for New Zealand

    Kane Williamson will be key for hosts’ success in the ODIs. The New Zealand batting in this format revolves around him. Given the longer format and enough assistance for the bowlers, his experience will be important to carry the batting while others can play around him. Their opener Finn Allen is an exciting talent. He surely adds dynamism to the batting lineup at the top. However after his fireworks in the T20 World Cup opener vs Australia, he has not done enough with the bat. With a touch of consistency in his play, he can be a vital player for New Zealand in the long run and this is exactly what he will aim for in this series.

    However, I feel Devon Conway will be the batter to watch out for. He is the man in form. Conway’s unique ability to build the innings and then switch gears when required is what makes him a vital cog in this New Zealand lineup.

    The Black Caps will certainly miss the services of Trent Boult. He makes the new ball talk straightaway and has the knack of picking early wickets. But his absence should not be of much concern. With Boult missing, Tim Southee’s massive experience will come to the fore, while Lockie Ferguson and Adam Milne’s pace will be crucial. NZ bowlers, in these conditions, will always pose a strong challenge. I am looking forward to seeing how our young batters cope with this challenge.

    Watch out for Indian youngsters

    Team India, today, has many quality all-rounders in the squad, which is definitely one of their biggest strengths. These fast bowling and spin bowling all-rounders add a lot of balance to the playing XI, something which is crucial in white-ball cricket. Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed are some names in this list. All of them are capable enough of being part of the playing 11.

    There are many options for captain Shikhar Dhawan to choose from and it will be interesting to see what combination India goes with. I am also excited to watch our young fast bowlers in the squad. Keeping in mind the ODI World Cup in 2023, the management will be keenly watching the development of the young fast bowlers such as Kuldeep Sen and Umran Malik. They are still unfinished products in international cricket and more opportunities like this series will only help their growth. I am sure one of them will get an opportunity to be part of the playing XI in the ODIs vs NZ.

    All eyes will be on Arshdeep as well. He has been excellent for Team India in the T20 format. It will be fascinating to see how he does in the ODIs. Deepak Chahar will bring some sort of experience to the bowling group. He is someone who can bat a bit too and that is always a huge plus for any team.

    On the batting front, India look set to open with Shikhar and Shubman Gill. If you look at India’s middle order, I think number 3,4 and 5 will be Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar and Rishabh Pant. It will be interesting to see who the management pick at No 6 and 7.

    I feel that we still don’t have a settled middle order on this particular tour which provides an opportunity for the young players to step up and make the opportunity count. With places up for grabs for the upcoming ODI World Cup, this series will be a great platform for them to showcase their talent in these relatively challenging condition for batters.

    A young Indian outfit, in the recently-concluded T20Is, has shown that they can be a tough team to beat even in foreign conditions. They will be aiming to maintain the same intensity in ODIs too.

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