Captain Dhawan underlines World Cup 2023 preparation ahead of New Zealand ODIs

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India's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 preparations are set to get underway with the three-match away series against New Zealand.

Watch New Zealand v India ODI series on in select regions

The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 is less than a year away and ODI cricket has already started to take centre stage. Australia hosted arch-rivals England in a three-match series and their neighbours New Zealand are now ready to battle India in three ODIs, the first of which starts on Friday, 25 November. 

India have decided to rest key players, which includes captain Rohit Sharma. In his absence, Shikhar Dhawan will lead a new-look Indian side keen to make an impression. 

The seaming and swinging conditions in New Zealand give the Indian side a good opportunity to test their skills in trying conditions.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, stand-in skipper Dhawan said, "We are looking to play good cricket and win the series. It's good exposure for young boys to come and play in New Zealand. Test their skills and character in different conditions.

"It's been a bit rainy as well so the ball has been moving. It's a good opportunity for us to show our skills."

India already have one eye on the World Cup and with question marks over multiple spots in the XI, the New Zealand series gives India's fringe players an opportunity to knock on the doors of the selectors.

"This preparation is all about the World Cup," Dhawan added. "The young boys have been performing quite well. We have a very good idea [about] who's going to get into the World Cup squad."

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are India's second-most prolific opening pair in ODIs after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are India's second-most prolific opening pair in ODIs after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly

Shikhar Dhawan has proved to be a great deputy to Rohit Sharma in the ODI format and has a 7-2 win record when he has stood in as captain since 2021.

However, Dhawan's strike rate has come under the scanner lately, leading to questions being asked about his spot in the team. Since becoming a regular in India's XI in 2013, the southpaw has struck at 94.51 until last year in ODIs. In matches this year, that number has fallen well below par to 74.60 in 16 games.

The pairing of Rohit and Dhawan has been key to India's ODI success over the last decade and the stand-in skipper is keen to continue delivering for the side.

"We guys have been performing quite well. We both have been successful players," Dhawan said. But at the same time, talking about myself, I have to keep performing. I don't take anything for granted.

"I know that till the time I am going perform, I am going to be there [in the team]. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me hungry."

Apart from the World Cup preparation, both teams will be looking to bag Super League points in the series. India sit on top of the standing with 129 points and though they have already qualified for the marquee events as hosts, they will want to maintain their spot as leaders.

New Zealand may be placed sixth at the moment with 110 points, a whitewash will see them displace India at the top.

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