New Zealand and India kick off the tourists' tour with an ODI in Napier. The Black Caps are fresh off a T20 series victory over the West Indies while India are back from a series loss against South Africa.
What: New Zealand vs. India, 1st ODI
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
When: Sunday, Jan. 19
Start time: 1 a.m. GMT/2 p.m. local
Live on: Sky Sport NZ, Sky Sports 3 UK
Weather: According to Accuweather, things should be clear and warm. It's a welcome forecast compared to the doom and gloom of conditions during the West Indies series, where rain affected numerous games.
The last time New Zealand and India met in an ODI series was in 2010. The Black Caps were utterly woeful and suffered on their way to a six-match losing streak. Things are a bit different now.
Although the hosts drew their ODI series against the Windies, they showed real promise and attacking power, coming together as a team. India, although packed with stars, are still searching for an identity as a one-day unit. If ever there was a time for New Zealand to claim India's scalp, it's now.
The two sides have met at this ground before—back in 2009—with India walking away as victors, claiming a 53-run win. Given the changes to both sides in recent years, though, the historical results mean very little when a new slate like this is started.
The two captains will be taking rather different approaches. India's MS Dhoni has suggested that due to the wind-factor at Napier, his players will need to be smart and read conditions well.
He was quoted by ESPNCricinfo's Abhishek Purohit as saying:
With the bowling, especially bowling against the wind, it is slightly more demanding. It is an obstruction and you tend to get tired slightly quicker. Fielding also, the outfields seem quite slow, the grounds are not big, so you need to judge where to stand so batsmen don't steal doubles from you. All in all, reading conditions does help so you can adapt accordingly.
Brendon McCullum, meanwhile, is pondering a pace assault on India and suggested that he might for an all-out quick attack in an attempt to exploit one of India's perceived weaknesses. Once again quoted by ESPNCricinfo, McCullum said:
I guess we are leaning towards it [playing four quicks] at this stage. Obviously we'll see how everyone pulls up through training as well, but I think it will be quite nice to unleash a bit of pace in this opening game and then try and be aggressive and as hostile as we can with ball in hand.
So that sets the tone then. Dhoni will be as cool and calm as ever while McCullum will try every trick in the book to unsettle the world's top-ranked ODI side.
Even though the sides aren't quite evenly matched on paper, they are evenly matched in their desires, and home advantage could boost the Black Caps. Should the weather remain clear as promised, it could very well end up being one enticing tussle.
Mitchell McClenaghan was impressive with the ball against the West Indies. He finished with eight wickets at an average of 19.87 in four games. His ability to swing the ball out and in is handy; and if unsettling the Indians with some crafty bowling is what McCullum wants, he needs to look no further than McClenaghan.
Ravi Jadeja is becoming a sort of cult classic. With a twirly moustache and a few prize scalps to boot, his value to the Indian team cannot be underestimated. Handy for keeping the run-rate down and more than capable with the bat, Jadeja's all-round role is one of the must crucial cogs in this Indian wheel.
Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi(w), Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan, James Neesham, Adam Milne
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Stuart Binny, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Ambati Rayudu, Amit Mishra
Squads and statistics via Cricinfo