The Test series won and senior members including skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni given some rest because of injury concerns, a new-look India under Gautam Gambhir will take on a never-say-die New Zealand in a five-ODI series starting in Guwahati on Sunday.
The series will be India's last outing in the sub-continent before they begin their campaign in the World Cup. Thus it will be one last chance for the fringe players to prove their worth before the big summit in February-April next year to be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. From the Kiwis perspective, Daniel Vettori's men will look to erase the bitter memories of a 0-4 series loss to Bangladesh by coming down on India heavily.
New Zealanders have the ammunition in the form of an experienced line-up with the likes of Scott Styris, Ross Taylor and the skipper himself, while India will look up to their young bunch. Besides skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India have rested star players Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh due to injury concerns ahead of the World Cup.
In the absence of Sehwag, Murali Vijay will look to add solidity to the opening slot, while the middle-order will be in the hands of in-form Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and the senior-most member of the side, Yuvraj Singh, who will be the cynosure of all eyes in the series.
Demoted to B contract, the stylish Yuvraj is yet to get back his silken touch and the Punjab batsman will be desperate to come out of the phase and contribute with a winning knock.
In-form Kohli will be the one to watch out for as the Delhi lad is going great guns at all levels of the game. His career-best 118 in Visakhapatnam -- in the only one-dayer possible during their last series against Australia -- helped India clinch the series 1-0.
Kohli carried the momentum to Ranji Trophy as well and struck two back-to-back hundreds against Bengal and Tamil Nadu. With the World Cup in mind, the selectors have also brought in the devastating Yusuf Pathan who recently had a good domestic season for Baroda both with the bat and ball. Having got yet another chance to prove his worth before the World Cup, Pathan will have direct competition from Ravindra Jadeja to grab the all-rounder's spot in the line-up.
This series will also mean a lot to Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha who is all set for debut tomorrow as the skipper has been given rest.