Batting spots mean Virat Kohli, and not KL Rahul, should be captain


February 8: New Zealand v India, 2nd ODI, Auckland

Our XI: Our XI: Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Shreyas Iyer, Colin De Grandhomme, James Neesham, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates

Captain: Virat Kohli

A half-century in the first ODI showed that Kohli’s form in his favourite format is as good as ever. One thing we know about Kohli – his hunger is insatiable and his desire to make India win is unmatchable. Given that he was out soon after fifty and that India lost, he’ll be out to correct that with a vengeance. Straight pick as captain.

Vice-captain: KL Rahul

Had India opted to open with Rahul in the first ODI, we would have picked him as captain. Such has been his form of late that he can’t seem to put a bat swing wrong, anywhere. But he’s at No.5 – and who can argue with the results? – which is why he’s the vice-captain (at No. 5, you’re not always certain of getting enough overs to build a big score). On the other hand, Rahul has shown of late that he doesn’t need that many overs to make big scores anyway.

Hot picks

Ross Taylor: He had been in good form throughout the T20I series without ever ending up on the winning side, but with that magnificent century in the first ODI, Taylor has got an extra boost. Before the first ODI, Taylor was averaging 63.75 in ODIs since 2017. Now that number has gone up to 66.47 – higher than anyone in the world save Kohli.

Jasprit Bumrah: Have you ever known Bumrah to have two bad matches in a row? Not us, either. So if he returned a modest none for 53 in the first ODI, expect Bumrah to come back hard. Of course, none for 53 in a match where 348 was successfully chased was actually quite a good show, but Bumrah bowled nine wides in the first ODI, which is unheard of. He also didn’t appear to be quite as devastating, which means the likelihood of him being that now is higher.

Tom Latham: Captain and wicketkeeper, Latham also played an innings as crucial as Taylor’s in driving New Zealand to victory in the first ODI. His overall ODI numbers are modest: an average of 32.73 and a strike rate of 83.30. But against India, he acquires superpowers. His average and strike rate rise to world-beating levels of 55.16 and 94.16.

Value picks

Prithvi Shaw: Shaw looked good in his debut ODI, though he made only 20. But he has shown superb form against New Zealand A on India A’s shadow tour, and is already familiar with the conditions. He packs a punch and plays fearless cricket, and the day it comes off, he’ll net you huge points.

James Neesham: If this were a contest being played out on social media, Neesham would be captain, vice-captain and the entire playing XI. But even on the cricket field, Neesham provides good value. He was among the most economical bowlers for New Zealand in a high-scoring first ODI, and he’s come into this series on the back of some good domestic form. His all-round skills add to his value.

Point to note

Eden Park hasn’t hosted an ODI since 2017, but in the two T20Is that took place here on this tour, one match turned out to be a very high-scoring one. India chased successfully both times, but their target in the first game was 204, and in the second, it was 133. The short boundaries mean it’s sensible to pack the side with batsmen, though as the second T20I showed, if the surface has some wear and tear, there is something for the bowlers too.



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