The Kiwi all-rounder Jimmy Neesham showered praises for the former Indian skipper MS Dhoni, saying that “you don’t have the game won until you have him out.” Ahead of the ODI series in Australia, questions were raised over Dhoni’s waning abilities with the bat but he silenced his critics with three back-to-back half-centuries.
Before missing out on the third and fourth ODI against New Zealand due to some soreness in his hamstring, the 37-year-old scored an unbeaten 48 and behind the stumps, he remains as sharp as ever.
Talking about him ahead of the final ODI in Wellington, Neesham said, “His record speaks for itself. He is a fantastic player. I know there were some noises in the Indian media if he should be in the World Cup squad or not. He has got that calm demeanor in the middle-order. When you are bowling to him, you know you have not got the game won until you get him out.”
When asked about the final game of the ODI series, Jimmy revealed that he expects the ball to do a bit at the Westpac Stadium, like it did in Hamilton where India was bowled out for 92 before suffering an eight-wicket loss.
Neesham explained, “We sort of got conditions (at Hamilton) which suit us a little bit more, there was more swing in the air for Boulty (Trent Boult). Anytime, if you can knock over a team like India for 90 odd, you will be happy. We want to be a team which can perform in all conditions. I certainly prefer playing at Westpac because at the Basin Reserve (another venue in Wellington) you are just bowling into the wind every day. At Westpac, it swings a little bit more. It is a pretty fair surface. I haven’t seen the wicket but I am sure it will be full of runs.”
New Zealand has an average total of 207 at this venue over the last three years, indicating that batting is not easy on the surface. On the personal front, Neesham has been in good touch and was amongst the runs and wickets in the home series against Sri Lanka before injury ruled him out of the first three games against India.
The Indian team management decided to rest the regular skipper Virat Kohli for the final two ODIs and the subsequent T20I series but Neesham feels the visitors remains a formidable force.
The all-rounder elaborated, “Their top three average 20 runs more than any other pair. They have a lot of quality at the top despite Virat being rested. For us, it (Kohli’ absence) is certainly not a case of being complacent. We have to bowl in the right areas like Boulty did the other day.”