Game not won until you get him out: Neesham lauds Dhoni effect

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New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham has highlighted MS Dhoni’s importance to the Indian line-up ahead of the 5th ODI between the two sides.

Dhoni became the oldest cricketer to take home an ODI Player of the Series award when he hit three consecutive half-centuries away in Australia in January, and Neesham acknowledged the threat of the India stalwart as a finisher, tipping him for 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup selection.

“I think his record speaks for itself, he’s a fantastic player,” Neesham told ESPNCricInfo. “There are some noises from Indian media about whether he should be in the World Cup squad or not, but i think he’s got that calm demeanour in the middle order.

“You don’t have the game won until you get him out. That will be a big focus for us, and hope we can get through him.”

Neesham praised the efforts of his New Zealand side, who after receiving a humbling in the first three ODIs, bounced back to skittle India for 92 and win by eight wickets in the fourth bout, Trent Boult taking a magnificent 5/21 in swinging conditions in Hamilton.

“We’ve turned it around pretty nicely I think,” Neesham said. “We got some conditions that suit us a little bit more, a bit more swing in the air for Boulty, and Dutch (Colin de Grandhomme) obviously got some nibble off the deck as well.

“Anytime you can knock over a team like India for 90-odd and you chase it you’re obviously pretty happy with that result as a team.”

Anticipating how the Wellington pitch will play in the final battle between the two sides is not high on Neesham’s agenda, as the 28-year old outlined his team’s goal to become a formidable opponent in all conditions ahead of New Zealand’s imminent World Cup campaign.

“You sort of don’t know what you’re gonna get at the stadium down in Wellington as far as the pitch and conditions go, but we know that conditions are going to vary in all different parts of the country and they’re going to vary in different tournaments coming up,” he said. “We want to be a team that can perform in all conditions.

“We know everyone is human, and everyone can make mistakes so hopefully we can run through them again.”

Making an impact against India is a target of Neesham’s, having picked up an untimely injury following the recently concluded Sri Lanka ODI series. He averaged a whopping 123 across the three matches, but missed out on the first three games against India before returning for the fourth. 

“Hopefully I get more of a chance to show what I’ve got in this next game and I can continue on from the Sri Lanka series,” he said.

“Obviously Virat (Kohli) is resting for the rest of the series, but it’s certainly not a case of getting complacent, we’re just gonna go out and put the balls in the right areas again as Boulty did at Hamilton.”