Kohli, Taylor face-off head-to-head as India, New Zealand clash in Napier
World's best one-day international batsmen, Virat Kohli and Ross Taylor will face-off head-to-head as India and New Zealand clash in the first of five ODIs in Napier.
For both sides, the series is an opportunity to fine-tune their combinations ahead of the World Cup in England this year.
But for Kohli and Taylor – currently ranked first and third in the world respectively – it's a more personal battle, with both in superb form and looking to gain a psychological edge.
The McLean Park wicket promises to be easy for batsmen as New Zealand's Tom Latham struck 110 off just 60 deliveries, including 10 fours and six sixes, in a domestic T20 match last week.
"I think it's going to be a high-scoring affair," declared New Zealand coach David Stead Tuesday.
"I'll be surprised if it's not. The wicket is hard and bouncy and the outfield is lightning fast as well."
Since the start of last year, Taylor has averaged 92 from 13 innings and became the first New Zealander to score 20 ODI hundreds.
However, his performance has been overshadowed by an even more phenomenal average of 113 in 17 innings by Kohli, who has now 39 ODI hundreds to his name.
'Easy to get caught up in Kohli'
But Taylor – alongside Latham, Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill to back him up in the runs department – cautioned against New Zealand keeping an eye on Kohli alone.
"He's a sensational player, the best one-day player going around, easily. It's easy to get caught up in him. You've got two pretty good openers at the top, Sharma and Dhawan, before he gets in."
Rohit Sharma ranks ahead of Taylor at number two in the world, while Shikhar Dhawan is ranked ninth.
In addition, MS Dhoni is also in the list of feared Indian batsmen following the veteran's 51, 55 not out and 87 not out during the three matches against Australia.
The last time New Zealand played India at McLean Park was four years ago when Kohli scored 123, but his knock was in vain as Williamson (71) and Taylor (55) set up a 24-run win for New Zealand.
And although India have the higher ranking, their history in New Zealand – where conditions are similar to what they can expect in the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales – is not so good.