It's do or die for Indians

It's do or die for Indians

Down 0-2, Dhoni's men have no choice but to fire against the Kiwis

It's do or die for Indians

Their campaign in tatters after two consecutive defeats, India need to regroup quickly and find the right combination as they go into a must-win match against a gutsy New Zealand in the third cricket one-dayer here on Saturday.

Down 0-2, the Indian team would be desperate to make amends and stamp their authority in what will be their last chance to make a come back into the five-match series.

If Dhoni’s men fail to win, it will be their second consecutive series loss after South Africa outside the sub-continent.

The visitors lost the first ODI at Napier by 24 runs and then went down in the second one-dayer by 15 runs (D/L method) at Hamilton, which dethroned India from the number one ranking in the ODIs. India returned to the top spot on Friday courtesy Australia’s loss against England in the fourth ODI.

Overall, Dhoni and Co have lost four of their last five one-dayers, all of which were played outside the sub-continent. This has undoubtedly opened up a number of points for the concerned team to ponder upon.

The fact that the Dhoni likes to chase, opting to bowl first in both matches so far, the size of Eden Park here should be another worry for him.

The Indians have looked to contain the batsmen in the middle of the innings before restricting the damage in the death overs, and this strategy has so far backfired. It is because not many wickets have fallen until the 35th over.

Only three wickets fell before the 35th over in Napier, with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor batting since the eighth over. It was much the similar case in Hamilton.

R Ashwin has not taken a single wicket in the last two ODIs. But the blame doesn’t lie with him alone, since Dhoni uses his main bowlers in short bursts and makes them bowl during the powerplays as well as death overs. If the idea is to contain runs rather than taking wickets, it is precisely where the Indian bowling is failing.

Ashwin has conceded runs at 5.89 per over in the last five matches, while Ishant Sharma (6 wickets) has conceded at 6.12 per over in four games.

Other bowlers in Ravindra Jadeja (3 wickets) has conceded at 6 per over, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2 wickets) has played only three matches and gone for 5.73 per over. Mohammad Shami is by far the most expensive bowler, giving away runs at 6.70, but that is negated by his ability to take wickets -- 16 in five matches.

The size of this ground should excite the Indian batsmen, but these are troublesome times. The openers — Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma — have produced their best opening stand in the last four ODIs on foreign soil, worth a meagre 22 runs.

With the series on the line here, Dhoni must re-think of the playing XI with Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Ishwar Pandey and Varun Aaron sitting on the bench. Will the team think-tank look to make changes or will they stick to their guns of fielding the current eleven will be something to watch out for.

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