The number one ranking in ODI cricket gone like the wind, and 2-0 down in the five-match one-day international series, India will need some serious bouncebackability when they take on New Zealand in the 3rd ODI at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 2 pm local time (6.30 am IST) start with live coverage on Sky Sports in New Zealand and Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India. The match can also be watched through free live streaming online HERE in India. Catch the action in the US HERE, while UK viewers can do the same HERE. Viewers in Africa can live stream the match HERE.
India's over-reliance on their two best ODI players - Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni - has been a major problem for the away side in this series so far, and time is a little more than ripe for a couple of the other nine players to stand up and make an impression.
"What some of the batters are going through is a phase where first when you come in and play a few games you just play your natural game and then all of a sudden you have a reputation to carry on and that puts a bit of pressure on them," Dhoni explained the reasons behind why the likes of Shikhar Dhawan are struggling at the moment after such a bright start to international cricket.
"With more and more games, they will realise what their particular game is, they will back themselves to play that game and slowly, they'll change themselves and improve for better performance.
"They are going through a phase where they are thinking what their benchmark should be but it is important we enjoy cricket and play free-flowing cricket because most of the batsmen are free-flowing and they should play their shots, does not matter if it is the first ball or the last."
The first couple of ODIs have shown the same pattern - the India bowlers struggling to stop the New Zealand charge, before the batsmen struggle, putting the entire chase-down-the-huge-target pressure on Kohli and Dhoni.
Something obviously has to give, and the India skipper will be hoping it is the bowlers that come to the fore a little bit more to ease the pressure on the willow-wielders.
Ishant Sharma has been a huge disappointment in the first two ODIs, while R Ashwin is looking like the poor brother of his shadow's shadow.
Spinners are of course not expected to pick up too many wickets in New Zealand conditions, but the ease with which the Kiwi batsmen have played Ashwin will be a serious cause for worry for Dhoni.
Another major issue has been the openers, with Rohit Sharma and Dhawan unable to give India any kind of solid start. If one of the batsmen at least get settled in the middle and carry on to make a big score, it releases the pressure on the already brittle-looking middle order.
New Zealand, on the other hand do not have too many worries, with skipper Brendon McCullum marshalling his troops exceedingly well.
The plan has been pretty simple from match one - go at the Indian players hard, whether be it with the bat or with the ball.
That plan has worked wonders so far, and McCullum, no doubt, will be telling his team to just keep doing the same things.
"We are playing an aggressive, attacking style of cricket," Kiwi fast bowlers Tim Southee said. "That is the approach Brendon and [coach] Mike [Hesson] have brought to this side.
"They have worked very well together and it is showing that we can go out there and play our natural game freely. We are a naturally exciting batting line-up and have got ball strikers all the way down. If they go out there and put the runs on the board as they have, it will allow us bowlers to be aggressive all the way through the innings."
Team news: New Zealand: No particular changes are expected, although the home side might have to assess Jesse Ryder's fitness after the opener remained off the field for a length time in the second ODI.
India: Dhoni should be contemplating a few changes and making a couple as well. The obvious ones are in the bowling department - dropping Ishant Sharma for either Varun Aaron or Ishwar Pandey, and also probably giving all-rounder Stuart Binny an opportunity, maybe at the expense of I-just-can't-take-a-wicket-away-from-home Ashwin.
Expected lineups: New Zealand: Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan, Kyle Mills.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron.
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