Last chance for Ryder to fire before IPL auction
It's a measure of how New Zealand's top order batting has fired that Jesse Ryder has barely warranted a mention in this victorious one-day series against India.
For New Zealand's hopes of a 4-0 scoreline, and Ryder's of making a decent splash at the Indian Premier League auction next month, today's fifth ODI is timely for the sleeping giant to awaken.
With licence to attack, Ryder has looked as comfortable as ever against India's pacemen but scores of 18, 20, 20, and 19 are all he has had to show for it in the same month as his 104 off 51 balls against West Indies.
New Zealand's players can say what they like about sealing the series 4-0, an estimable goal which would cap an outstanding fortnight against the world champions and set them up well for the two-test series.
But in this cricketing world, personal goals also count and of today's squad all but Kane Williamson and Hamish Bennett have their names in the mix for the IPL bidding war.
Ryder's fitness is good and he's understood to have attracted interest from more than one IPL franchise. A typical blockbusting knock on the sluggish drop-in surface would be a timely reminder to potential suitors.
Spinner Nathan McCullum is also in the IPL mix and acknowledges it's in the back of players' minds today, even if the team goal of a 4-0 sweep is at the forefront.
"The majority of that sort of thing [which players IPL franchises want] is going to be done and dusted unless you do something freakish. People know the kind of players people are. We've got some fantastic players, but sometimes fantastic players don't get picked up," he said.
"It's a bit of a side thing and guys will have that personally and individually. We're fully focused on what's going on here. When you're winning your performances stand out a bit more as well."
New Zealand cleared one major hurdle in Hamilton with their seven-wicket win chasing 279. With the series beckoning they nailed it in a cool-headed performance, something they haven't always been known for.
Now in a dead rubber contest the challenge is to keep their standards high and for individuals to star with the pressure off. Consistency is the team's buzzword, and to send a message to opponents a year out from the World Cup on home soil.
"I guess they [India] are probably surprised with how consistent we've been. They've still played some fantastic cricket. We've seen a great one-day cricket series and that's exciting for international cricket. They're probably a bit hurt with how we've taken the game away from them at times. But they're not far off performing to their best. They have to give us a little bit of credit as well because we've had some fantastic performances through the whole series," McCullum said.
New Zealand will rest Tim Southee ahead of the test series and were last night considering whether to do the same with all-rounder Corey Anderson. He sat out Hamilton and is still battling general soreness, so the safe option is to keep him on ice for the tests and give Jimmy Neesham another chance. Mitchell McClenaghan will return for Southee, so late callup Matt Henry is an unlikely starter.
India might be tempted to give test seamer Ishwar Pandey a run, along with legspinner Amit Mishra, on the slow surface.
Key India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja said morale was still high among the tourists.
"There is no confusion. We reached 314, we have been reaching 280, 290. It is just that we panic a bit and we have to reduce that percentage, those little errors. I don't think there is any major problem why we are not clicking in batting and bowling.
"We are all very positive. We do not need to bother about anything. We are making little errors. We need to focus on our basic cricket and back ourselves."
The Dominion Post