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Kohli’s men face comeback challenge against NZ in Pune

Kohli’s men face comeback challenge against NZ in Pune

PUNE: Virat Kohli hit his 31st ODI hundred in the first match, meaning only Sachin Tendulkar (49) has more centuries than the India captain in 50-over international cricket, but finished on the losing side as Tom Latham and Ross Taylor guided New Zealand home in Mumbai.

While victory for India would set up a winner-takes-all clash in Kanpur on Sunday, a New Zealand triumph would secure their first one-day series win in India and end a run of six ODI series wins on the bounce for the hosts.

Key to the Black Caps’ chances will be the success of their recently-reshuffled batting order that saw Colin Munro open with Martin Guptill and Tom Latham slot into the middle-order at five — a tactic that worked perfectly in the first ODI.

“With that [new] line-up we know we can attack at the top and it does put the onus on the bowlers to perform and Munro did a great job,” Taylor told reporters.

“To bring Tom in here, he was one of our best batters last tour and with him with the extra keeping responsibility, it might be quite tough to come out in that situation and open the batting.

“But for positions five and six, we’ve been searching for a bit of consistency and Tom, not only in the new role as ‘keeper but to bat at five, to score a very successful fifty, hundred and hundred, hopefully he can continue that and the balance of our side improves with Tom batting at five.”

India need to win the second game to keep the series alive, a situation they have not really faced in recent past.

India bowling coach Bharat Arun also admitted that New Zealand have competed exceptionally well.

“We look at it as a big challenge right now. New Zealand, in all fairness, compete exceptionally well. They had a fantastic partnership and they went on to win the game. It’s a bigger challenge for us to comeback. We know we have plans in place and it will be a good testing ground for the team on how you come back from behind and do well in the series,” Arun said.

The first game’s result was a surprise for many as India have been winning most matches at home. Taylor and Latham were praised for their way of handling the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

Arun said that it is testing times for Kohli and his team but the management has looked closely at the way New Zealand batsmen play and will look to implement new plans in the next game.

“We have taken a good look at the videos of how they play and from where they sweep. Definitely, the plans will change for these batsmen,” he said.

“These two wrist spinners [Kuldeep and Chahal] have done their job, they have time and again taken wickets. Sometimes it does happen that you get the desired wickets or you have plans in place but it doesn’t work out but then if you look at the overall percentages, I think they have very well shaped up and one odd match shouldn’t trouble us.”

He continued to back the two wrist spinners and said that they have done exceptionally well for India in the limited overs fixtures before adding that the combination for 2019 World Cup will be thought accordingly.

“These two boys have done exceptionally well for us and we would like to take a good look on them before we come up on the combination for the 2019 World Cup. So far they have shaped exceptionally well,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

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