Can New Zealand stop formidable Dhoni-Kohli force?

While Dhoni led India in two World Cup wins, Kohli made India number 1 again

New Zealand were humiliated in Test series by the spirited Indian team led by captain Virat Kohli. India played like a unit and everyone chipped in with big and small contributions. Though, R Ashwin was the man of the series as he took 27 wickets, contributions of all the players were essential to India’s win. The win was absolute. India won 3-0. Now, as India play New Zealand in ODIs, another leader has come into the team fold- ODI skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The big question is- can New Zealand overcome the formidable challenge of combined experience and spirit of Dhoni and Kohli?

New Zealand think they can. Batsman Luke Ronchi told a press-conference that they have played ODIs really well in the recent past.

“It’s completely different ball game now, completely different cricket, a cricket which we have been playing really well for a while now. Tests are gone now. We can’t do anything about it. Now we are just looking forward to the five ODIs,” PTI quoted them as saying.

“We are a good ODI team and if we can continue playing the way we have been playing for a while now, it’s going to make for an interesting series.

“Our ODI cricket has been good for a quite a while now. We did not play that well in this Test series but in the past we have done great job in Tests as well. After losing 0-3 we are going to look at this ODI series and make sure we perform well and finish off the tour on a high. We will be positive going into each game and back our processes and skills,” Ronchi added.

They have a point. New Zealand have been playing some good ODI cricket for the last two years. They have won the last four ODI series defeating Zimbabwe, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The last time, India played New Zealand in 2014, in New Zealand, they destroyed us. They defeated India, 4-0. But, in India, we have an even better record.

India have won all the bilateral series against New Zealand while playing at home. The last time when they toured India in 2010, India gave them a humiliating drubbing. India had dealt a 5-0 blow to the visitors. Overall ODI record in India is also heavily in our favour. New Zealand have just won 5 out of 27 ODIs against India, whereas India have defeated New Zealand 21 times.

India’s ODI record has not been that impressive recently. India have won only 10 matches out of 19. They have lost in Bangladesh, South Africa and Australia. Also, they are playing with a depleted side. R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami are not playing the series.

The big plus for India is that they have two inspirational captains in their team. Indian Test captain Virat Kohli and iconic captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. While Dhoni led India in two World Cup wins, Kohli made India number 1 again. Dhoni has been the world’s most successful finisher of matches, Kohli most consistent performer in the world. They also have a young but talented team to lead. Kohli and Dhoni are working together as a unit to lead the team.

“I have already started using him (Kohli) more. If you witness a match you will see I have more interactions with him on the field because two individuals of course will conduct in different ways,” PTI quoted Dhoni as saying.

This is the leadership India will need to deal yet another whitewash on New Zealand.