Despite putting up a good fight throughout the series and winning two out of four ODIs, New Zealand suffered an embarrassing drubbing against India last time the two teams played a decider. This time around in Kanpur, the Kiwis will look to bury the ghosts of that fifth ODI in Visakhapatnam, last year, and become first team in two years to win an ODI series in India.
Both the teams go into the series decider in Kanpur on equal footing. New Zealand won the first ODI quite comfortably in Mumbai and in reversal of sorts, India didn't face much trouble in clinching the second game.
Speaking about Kanpur, India skipper Virat Kohli has to tackle a selection dilemma with regard to the hometown boy Kuldeep Yadav. The left-arm wrist spinner missed out in last match after an average outing in the first ODI with figures of 10-0-64-1. Axar Patel took his place in the Pune ODI and did a decent if not remarkable job with 1/54 from 10 overs. Kuldeep's wicket-taking abilities and familiarity with the conditions might prompt Kohli to go with the chinaman.
When it comes to India's batting, the top-order will most probably remain the same as last match. In the Mumbai ODI, Kohli preferred Kedar Jadhav at No 4, but that changed it in the next game with Dinesh Karthik, coming two down and playing a solid unbeaten knock of 64. And it seems as if the Tamil Nadu batsman might have solved India's No 4 conundrum.
Rohit Sharma looked a bit off colour in the first two games and he will look to get back to his best. He played a poor shot in Mumbai and suffered a soft dismissal in Pune. What might inject confidence is the fact that the last time he played at Green Park Stadium, he scored a magnificent 150 against South Africa in 2015 but ultimately India faltered in the chase.
New Zealand will bank on their batsmen to up the ante again after a lackluster outing in Pune. Tom Latham and Ross Taylor will again be the key players. The middle-order duo took the game away from India in Mumbai and they were looking good in Pune as well before Taylor was dismissed at the wrong time by Hardik Pandya.
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson has had an ordinary series by his standards so far. Two single-digit score in two matches isn't exactly the case of 'dire loss of form', but New Zealand would be hoping that the captain steps up on the big stage to deliver when needed the most.
Kanpur in hosting a day-night ODI game for the first time (it could be the last time too) so the conditions might play a big role. Temperatures in the city drop during the evenings so dew might come into the factor. Toss would be very crucial for the both the teams as Kohli and Williamson would look to veer from the norm of batting first and opt for chase.
Talking about the conditions, Kiwi pacer Tim Southee emphasised on adaptability, "Obviously it's a different ground and it offers different challenges, so if we can adapt to that quickly and see what is working then we'll go a long way in a good bowling performance," Southee said. "We know that coming to India, the heat is always a challenge. What we experienced in Mumbai was something, some of the players never experienced before...the humidity and the amount of fluids lost. Pune was relatively nice. It is different again here (Kanpur)," he added.
Not much has been divulged about Green Park's pitch condition after the Pune fiasco involving curator Pandurang Salgaoncar allegedly agreeing to tamper with the track. But the history of the stadium says it's not going to be on the slower side.
New Zealand have never won an ODI series in India. They came close last time, but faltered on the final hurdle. Now, they have got another shot at redemption. They would look to go all out in pursuit of a win while India would look to continue their unbeaten series run. An intriguing contest is on the cards.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, George Worker, Henry Nicholls, Ish Sodhi