Chasing a formidable 293 in the opening game in Napier, India seemed on track for a comfortable win before a middle-order collapse gutted them against the world number 8 home team. Captain Dhoni wants more consistency from Indian batsmen Injured Kiwi pacer Milne doubtful for rest of ODIs It is no secret that the team's fortunes are heavily dependent on Kohli's bat. His hundred the other day was his 18th overall in just 126 matches, with another 28 fifties to boot. Will have to bat more ‘responsibly’: Kohli (JPN/Agencies)
What lay exposed was India's over-reliance on a certain Virat Kohli, left standing tall amid ruins with a sparkling hundred. But Suresh Raina's form has been a big concern, while the two openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have not given India the flourishing start expected of them.
Also, India's bowling will have to be a lot sharper in the coming matches given that the home batsmen negotiated the visiting attack without much difficulty in the series-opener.
With pacer Ishant Sharma and off-spinner R Ashwin not making much of an impression in overseas conditions, it remains to be seen whether the team management will consider making changes to the bowling line-up.
At Seddon Park, the visitors would be hoping for an encore from Kohli and better contributions from others in the line-up.
It is important to note that out of the 46 times he has scored a half-century or more, India finished victorious in 32 matches.
Rohit Sharma's scores in three ODIs in South Africa and New Zealand so far have been 18, 19 and 3.
Shikhar Dhawan's scores in the same matches have been 12, 0 and 32. Their best partnership during this time is 15 runs, put up in Napier, while together they scored 14 and 10 in Johannesburg and Durban. India have lost all three matches.
Compare this with their brilliant run last year until the West Indies series at home when they put up 1247 runs in 22 matches at an average of 59.38 helping the team win on 16 instances.
The most famous ones were in the 2013 Champions Trophy (in England) when they scored 127, 101, 58, 77 and 19 in five matches.
Clearly they have the ability to score good runs despite conditions favouring bowlers, just that they have been out-of-touch of late.
That it has happened at the same time for both of them heaps the onus on Kohli and in turn puts greater pressure on the middle order.
This is where the problem gets compounded since the number four and five batsmen haven't really contributed much to the Indian cause.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was vocal about this aspect after defeat in the first ODI on this tour, blaming the middle order for "inconsistency" and affecting the lower middle order's ability to chase down targets.
The team's think-tank has experimented with quite a few names for the middle order in 2013, especially these two slots at number four and five, with Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay, Kohli and Dhoni himself having batted there.
The first five names have featured most regularly in the middle order (Vijay batted lower down for the injured Dhoni in West Indies) and from among them the highest individual score contributed throughout 2013 was 89 not out by Raina against England way back in January 2013.
Meanwhile, for Brendon McCullum, there are fewer worries having taken an early lead in the series. If at all, they need only to focus on not taking the visitors lightly, who, on paper atleast, are a much stronger unit than the hosts.
The more pressing concern is about replacing 21-year-old fast bowler Adam Milne in the playing XI after he was sidelined from the rest of the series with a torn abdominal muscle.
Team India will be hoping for the latter, both from the weather and its much vaunted batsmen.
India: MS Dhoni (captain & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Amit Mishra.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Corey Anderson, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (wk), Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Hamish Bennett.
Chasing a formidable 293 in the opening game in Napier, India seemed on track for a comfortable win before a middle-order collapse gutted them against the world number 8 home team.
Captain Dhoni wants more consistency from Indian batsmen
Injured Kiwi pacer Milne doubtful for rest of ODIs
It is no secret that the team's fortunes are heavily dependent on Kohli's bat. His hundred the other day was his 18th overall in just 126 matches, with another 28 fifties to boot.
Will have to bat more ‘responsibly’: Kohli