New Zealand have the opportunity to reassert their cricketing credentials in the one-day international series against India starting tonight.
The visitors have never won a bilateral series in four attempts extending to 1988-89. Last time, in 2010-11, they were beaten 5-0.
The objective of winning, or at least delivering a more creditable batting performance than the test series, could be critical to maintaining the reinvigorated place they have in public hearts and minds over the past couple of summers.
The team risk diluting that goodwill if they struggle. However, they have the mental fillip of knowing they are the world's No 3-ranked team ahead of India at No 4. The hosts would have to win the series 4-1 for that to change and New Zealand would have to triumph 5-0 to jump ahead of South Africa into second behind Australia. The Black Caps have won their last three ODI series, albeit at home, against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia.
They will play at Dharamsala, at the foot of the Himalaya, which should suit them for climate at an altitude of 1457m. Players have been donning jerseys for the first time on tour, a contrast to the furnace of Kolkata and glasshouse of Indore. A sunny afternoon of 22 degrees is forecast with humidity of 50 per cent.
The alpine haven is likely to provide the most favourable conditions of the series for the visitors, before they head to the more default Indian hotspots of Delhi, Mohali, Ranchi and Visakhapatnam. Also in their favour is the absence of test nemeses Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who are rested for at least the first three ODIs.
The Black Caps maiden visit to Dharamsala came during the World T20 in March when, in the fairytale-like venue, they delivered a magical performance to triumph by eight runs over Australia.
The victory followed their 47-run win over India at Nagpur after the spin trio of Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum took nine wickets in dismissing them for 79. Seven of the current squad were part of that XI, so know how to beat India at home, albeit in the shortest format.
New Zealand will welcome back Tim Southee following his recuperation from an ankle injury as he hopes to recapture past form as a new ball and death overs bowler.
Likewise, the return of Corey Anderson from the stress fracture to his back will intrigue. The all-rounder will play this series as a specialist middle order batsman, a role he might pursue full-time if bowling injuries continue to plague.
"At the moment I'm batting, but working on bowling in the background," Anderson said. "It's pointless pushing [too hard] with such a big summer in front of us. We still need middle order batters who can control the middle of an innings and wait for the party at the end."
He said his break was tough but necessary.
"It's one of those things. You have a decent chunk out [with injury] and you don't really want to sit out again. But I had to do it. It's part of the game. I've been working to get my fitness and strength up."
All-rounder Anton Devcich looks a strong candidate to replace Brendon McCullum as Martin Guptill's opening partner. He has trained with the side since Kolkata and his left-arm orthodox spin will be a welcome addition to the bowling options. Devcich last played for New Zealand in December 2014 against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.