Kangaroos for breakfast and Kiwis for lunch!

Kangaroos for breakfast and Kiwis for lunch!

Source : SIFY
By : Sunil Rajguru
Last Updated: Thu, Oct 19, 2017 18:04 hrs

Team India probably could be on its greatest ever cricketing streak right now. We have won eight straight Test series in a row including the Big three of Australia, England and South Africa, all by wide series margins. 

Already this could be called India’s (arguably) greatest Test team ever.

India have won six bilateral ODIs in a row including the recent one against the Aussies where we thrashed them 4-1. Of course since 2013 our Achilles heel has turned out to be ICC tournaments where we have lost two finals and got thrashed in the 2015 ODI World Cup semis despite making our greatest league showing ever.

But the 2019 ODI World Cup is far away and right now if we keep winning one ODI series after another, we will be still considered as one of the best teams in history. Captain Virat Kohli is highly ambitious and will want to have led the greatest team ever in all formats of the game and he has within him to do so.

Our next challenge is a 3-match ODI series with New Zealand and we are firm favourites thanks to our home advantage and the Kiwis relatively lower ranking of No. 5. The Kiwis have never ever won an ODI/Test series/tournament on Indian soil and with the gulf between the two teams; one seriously doubts that they’ll be able to break the jinx this time round too.

It is doubtful whether New Zealand will be able to counter India's never-ending spin match-winners. When the Kiwis toured India in 2016, the star was man of the series Amit Mishra who took 15 wickets in the five-match series at an average of 14.33 and an economy rate of 4.79.

Interestingly Mishra hasn't played an ODI match after that! Tough to find a place in the Playing XI where we have Ravichandran Ashwin and Sir Ravindra Jadeja, but funnily enough even both there stars are also not in the team.

Kuldeep Yadav bagged 7 wickets in the Australia ODI series and Yuzvendra Chahal got 6.

Axar Patel had an off series, but all three have been picked for the New Zealand series and one can only guess which spinners will be in the team at the time of the 2019 ODI World Cup.

In the pace department, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been bowling steadily, but you can never tell when an Indian fast bowler will break down.

But the real star is Hardik Pandya, who became man of the series in the Australia ODI series. In just 26 ODIs, he has picked up 29 wickets and taken 10 catches. Hardik has a batting average of 40.8, which is too high for a career strike rate of 120.7. Add to that his 28 sixes and this all-rounder has the potential to be our greatest ever, at least in the ODI field. (This even as he more than a run a ball Test century!)

Both the top order and lower order are in fine form though one must say that the middle order is shaky, especially if Kohli gets out cheaply. Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey started off well, but they have been faltering a bit off late.

However if New Zealand have any chance of winning their first proper series on Indian soil, then it has to be in the T20s where we play three matches. They are world number one in that department and so are better in current form than India.

When India and New Zealand played a one-off T20 in 2012, we were set very gettable victory target of 168. India made 166/4 and lost by one run despite a blistering 41-ball 70 by Kohli. Rohit Sharma needed a boundary off the last ball to win but couldn't get the ball across the rope.

When the two teams met in the T20 World Cup of 2016, the Kiwis crashed to 126/7 in their 20 overs. What should have been an easy match turned out to be a disaster as India collapsed to 79 all out thanks to a fine 4-11 by Mitchell Santner. Santner is in the squad this time around too.

So even though the base is ridiculously small, New Zealand has a 100% record with T20s in India! The Kiwis will fancy their chances especially with the way India collapsed in the second T20 with Australia.

However despite that bit of history against them, Kohli’s boys are still firm favourites to win both the ODI and T20 series with the form they’ve been in the last two odd years, especially at home. India last lost a bilateral international series at home in October 2015.