Mumbai: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson urged his teammates on Saturday to avenge last year’s narrow ODI series defeat to India by putting in the performance of their lives this time around.
The Kiwis and their hosts were locked at 2-2 going into the decisive match of their 2016 One Day International rubber only for India to cruise to victory by 190 runs.
“In our last series here, we were two-all going into the decider which ... at (that) stage was a good effort, although we knew we hadn’t quite played our best performance.
“And it was a shame in that last game. So it would be nice to come out this series and do a little bit better,” said Williamson ahead of Sunday’s opener at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
India, second in the ODI rankings, come into the three-match series on the back of a convincing 4-1 limited-overs victory over Australia and Williamson isn’t fooling himself about the size of the task ahead.
The 27-year-old said the visitors, ranked fifth, must be at the top of their game if they are to achieve what they failed to do last year and inflict a rare series defeat on India.
“(India are) a very hard team to beat. We know that at home in particular they’ll be the strongest team in the world so there’s no illusions that we need to come out and play our best cricket,” the right-handed batsman told reporters.
India have only lost two out of 16 ODI series at home since losing to Australia in 2009-10 and can regain the top ODI spot from South Africa if they win the series 3-0.
Williamson said Martin Guptill and Colin Munro would open the batting on Sunday with Tom Latham, who scored a quickfire century in New Zealand’s final warm-up game this week, coming in lower down the order.
Virat Kohli, his counterpart, hailed India’s rotation policy for helping unearth his side’s potent new spin attack of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
The Indian skipper said giving younger and more inexperienced players a go was crucial as India try to build the strongest squad possible for the 2019 World Cup.
“We are giving chances to guys who we think have the ability to perform at this level,” Kohli said. “It is something we need to experiment with, to find our best bowling combination before we can reach the World Cup stage,” he added.
Kohli lavished praise on 22-year-old Kuldeep and Chahal, 27, for grasping the opportunity they had been given with both hands.
The duo have established themselves as India’s latest attacking combination in recent weeks, keeping veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja out of the team.
Kuldeep has quickly emerged as one of the world’s best slow bowlers since taking four wickets in his Test debut against Australia in Dharamsala in March.
He also played a big role in India’s recent 4-1 ODI series victory over Australia, taking a hat-trick in the second match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Kuldeep has been well supported by Chahal, who tormented the Australians with his deceptive leg spinners to bag six wickets in four matches.
“It’s a combination of ... giving guys chances as well as understanding the workload of bowlers who have played a for a while,” said Kohli.
“Ashwin and Jadeja have played for the last six, seven years limited-overs cricket for us regularly. These youngsters have stepped up. It creates a strong pool for us before the World Cup,” he added.
Catch the match
India vs New Zealand
Second One-day International (Mumbai)
Match starts at 12 noon
Live telecast on OSN Sports HD Cricket