The seemingly endless calendar of men’s international cricket welcomes back a team that has been largely MIA over the past four months, when India hosts the enigmatic Blackcaps of New Zealand for a three-match ODI series. The first game takes place on Sunday in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, with further games to be played in Pune and Kanpur in the coming days.
New Zealand have not played in any format since their group-stage exit from the Champions Trophy in England way back in June, and Kane Willamson’s men will be chomping at the bit to get back out on the field of play.
There has been no such hiatus for the hosts – since their defeat by Pakistan in the final of the aforementioned Champions Trophy, they have won ODI series in the West Indies 3-1, in Sri Lanka 5-0, and most recently at home to Australia 4-1.
On paper, India are strong favourites for this series – they are in tremendous form and sit top of the ICC ODI rankings. However, whilst the Kiwis may be a little rusty from their lack of competitive cricket, they are no pushovers, as India found when forced their hosts to a 5th game decider in an ODI series in the subcontinent just last year.
Overall, there have been 98 One Day Internationals between the two sides in their history, with India having won exactly half of them. On home soil, India has won 24 of the 32 games played in this format, and will be looking to continue that dominance this week.
They are a number of personal milestones to look out for as the series unfolds:
MS Dhoni (India)
The ageless wicketkeeper has been responsible for 389 dismissals in ODI cricket, comprising a world record 103 stumpings alongside 286 catches. Eleven more in the series will see him become only the fourth gloveman in the history of ODI cricket to notch up 400 dismissals – and would join Kumar Sangakkara, Mark Boucher and Adam Gilchrist in that exclusive club.
Perhaps slightly more unlikely given his batting position and the short nature of the series, Mahendra Singh needs 242 more runs to bring up 10,000 in the 50-over format. If he does mange this, he will become the twelfth batsman to bring up a five-figure career tally, and the fourth Indian.
Virat Kohli (India)
Still only 28, India’s talismanic captain is an ODI run-machine. Kohli currently sits on 8,767 runs in the format, with 233 more seeing him bring up 9,000.
His 30 centuries in 50-over cricket are enough to see him sit in joint second place in the world, alongside Australia’s Ricky Ponting. One more in this series will see him claim second spot for himself as he continues to get closer to countryman Sachin Tendulkar’s world-record 49. Few would bet against Virat getting there eventually in his career.
Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane (India)
Batsmen Dhawan and Rahane are chasing personal runs milestones of their own in the series, with Dhawan sitting 221 runs shy of notching up 4,000, and Rahane 178 away from 3,000.
Jasprit Bumrah (India)
White ball specialist quick bowler Bumrah has already notched up 46 wickets in his short career to date, and will be keen to bring up his fifty in the first game in Mumbai.
Trent Boult (New Zealand)
The Blackcaps’ pace spearhead has 90 ODI wickets to his name, looking for ten in the series to bring up his century of wickets
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
The Kiwi skipper currently has 4,605 runs in the fifty over format, a tally which sees him sit in ninth place for his country. Exactly 100 runs will see him move past the late great Martin Crowe’s 4704 into eighth place. Another four runs on top of that will see him edge past Craig McMillan’s 4707 into seventh too.