Kane Williamson-led New Zealand are on the verge of creating history as they are gearing up to face Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India in the final game of the five-match series on Saturday in Visakhapatnam.
The Black Caps have never won a one-day series on the Indian soil, and they will be hoping to create a Black Swan event after going in to the decider with great optimism, following a series leveling 22-run victory in the fourth ODI in Ranchi on Wednesday.
The series was always expected to be a closely fought contest after a rather one-sided affair in the five-day format, where Virat Kohli-led Indian team whitewashed visitors on the spinning tracks. Going in to the decider, Kiwis will be pleased with the form of the veteran opener Martin Guptill, who played a 72 runs crucial innings on the testing Ranchi pitch in the fourth ODI, which earned him the man of the match award as well. But the real cause of concern for the New Zealand team management is the form the form of experienced middle-order batsman Ross Taylor, who has so far just managed to score 100 runs in four innings at a disappointing strike rate of 62.39, with highest score of 44.
The visitors will be hoping that the 32-year-old will turn it around come Saturday and will make it count in the most important innings of the tour.
The win in the last match means there is no big surprises in store in the playing eleven for the fifth ODI, but the Black Caps team management will still has to make an important call regarding all-rounder Corey Anderson, who was dropped in the last match in favor of spinning all-rounder Anton Devich, who just managed 11 runs with the bat, and bowled four overs, in which he gave away 22 runs.
It will be interesting to see if New Zealand Head Coach Mike Hesson and captain Williamson will turn back to Anderson, who is more of a batting all-rounder instead of Devich, who is a bowling all-rounder.
On the other hand, team India will be hoping to finally seal the ODI series as well after dominating Williamson’s men in the red-ball cricket. However, hosts will be bitterly disappointed after not managing to close the series in the Ranchi ODI, where the team was in total control till the 25th over while chasing a target of 260, after which they lost five wickets in space of nine overs, which turned the match on its head.
The Team in Blue is expected to make one change in the final eleven, where fast-bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who missed the fourth match of the series due to injury, is expected to return and replace fellow pacer Dhawan Kulkarni. There is a forecast of rain expected on Saturday, which means a full 50-over match remains a serious doubt. Never the less, the track is expected to be a good one for batting and will offer some bounce for seamers and spinners.