India vs New Zealand -- the one-day international series – comes down to the final game, the 5th ODI in Visakhapatnam which will decide, who takes away the nobody-really-cares-about-it-but-it's-still-important trophy. After four matches, in which both teams have won two each, this ODI match on Saturday gives India an opportunity to move in the right direction before the Champions Trophy and New Zealand a chance at making history.
India have put in Jekyll and Hyde performances in this series so far – one match brilliant, the other not so much. So, finding that consistency, where the bowling, batting and fielding works like clockwork will be key, if the home team are to clinch the series with victory in the 5th ODI.
The bowling, to be fair, has been fairly good, and while there are a few chinks that still need to be ironed out, the fact that India have stopped New Zealand from running away with the game and posting massive totals, despite not having three of their frontline bowlers, is commendable.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the batting. With several injuries, this was an opportunity for some of the players to really make a case for themselves and show the selectors that they must be picked for the Champions Trophy.
Ajinkya Rahane, though, has flattered to deceive, more often than not, as an opener, while Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav have not been able to put in a standout performance. Much was expected from Pandey, who scored that wonderful hundred against Australia in January this year, but the right-hander has not quite been able to build on that knock and tell Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Virat Kohli and the selectors "hey, I'm undroppable now."
The same can be said of Rahane as well. This was the Mumbaikar's opportunity to move ahead of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul in the "who should open the batting with Rohit Sharma" stakes. However, scores of 33, 28, 5 and 57 are just not good enough if you want to make one of the most coveted spots in the country your own.
Both Rahane and Pandey will be aware of the expectations and maybe this ODI is when one or both produce what they are really capable of.
New Zealand will certainly hope not, because they are one win away from winning their first ever bilateral series in India. Having read the conditions better than India in the last game, the Kiwis will hope to do the same again.
All four matches in this ODI series have seen the Black Caps setting a target for India to chase down, and it will be interesting to see what decision is made this time. Dhoni has been fearful of the dew, which is why the India captain has chosen to bowl first the three times he has won the toss. But, with dew proving to be scarce in this series, maybe a change in thought is needed.
However, some rain is predicted on Saturday and if the Duckworth-Lewis method comes into play, it always ends up suiting the chasing side. So, both teams will keep that in consideration as well.
Whatever happens at the toss, irrespective of who bats or bowls first, this promises to be the perfect end to what has been an enthralling ODI series.
Where to Watch Live
India vs New Zealand 5th and final ODI is scheduled for a 1.30pm IST (9pm NZT, 9am BST, 4am ET) start. Live Streaming and TV information is below.
India: TV: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1 and Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD3. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
New Zealand: TV: Sky Sport3. Live Streaming: Sky Go NZ.
US and Canada: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.
Australia: TV: Fox Sports 2. Live Streamimg: Foxtel.
Middle East: TV: OSN Sports Cricket. Live Streaming: OSN Cricket Live.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 3. Live Streaming: Watch Sky Sports.