Scripting history, India won a Test series in Australia for the first time ever and have had a really good year so far following that up with back-to-back ODI series wins against Australia and New Zealand. Next up is the T20 series against New Zealand – a three-match series that comes at a perfect time with the Indian Premier League just about a month away. With skipper Virat Kohli and pacer Jasprit Bumrah rested for the series, the onus will be on stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma who will be eyeing his first series victory as a captain this year.
The three-match series kicks off on Wednesday, February 6th at the Westpac stadium in Wellington and New Zealand, who were rampant against Sri Lanka at home completing a whitewash have a good opportunity to challenge India. But what transpired in the ODI series was that the hosts were just not really up to it as they slumped to an unassailable 0-3 deficit. And though they pulled one back, skipper Kane Williamson will be disappointed with his side’s performance and look to the T20 series to assert their dominance. But, with the World Cup just a few months away, the hosts will also be wary of their team selection.
1st T20I: 12.30pm February 6th at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
2nd T20I: 11.30am February 8th at Eden Park, Auckland
3rd T20I: 12.30pm February 10th at Seddon Park, Hamilton
There are a few new faces in the New Zealand squad with all-rounder Daryl Mitchell receiving his maiden call-up to the international side. Mitchell whose father is a rugby player comes to the squad after a strong year in domestic cricket. Blair Tickner is another newcomer and will be available only for the third T20I where he will be replacing Lockie Ferguson.
New Zealand’s batting attack is led by Martin Guptill and Colin Munro at the top. Both these batsmen are excellent T20 players and will be eager to play in their natural setting. Kane Williamson, Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert and Scott Kuggeleijn complete New Zealand’s batting attack while Daryl Mitchell and Doug Bracewell are the all-rounder choices for the three-match series.
With Trent Boult rested for the series, Tim Southee makes a comeback to the side. He will be accompanied by Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner and Lockie Ferguson in the bowling line-up.
India will be looking to wrap up the series as quickly as possible which would allow them to test their bench strength for the last T20I. While some of the big names are missing, there are a few young players who have been included in the squad who could have a big impact in the series.
But the team is still cooking. With the World Cup only a few months away, India still does not know their strongest XI. With many players contesting for a few spots, the following days of non-stop cricket will see the team reshuffling and testing as they prepare for the World Cup.
In the absence of Virat Kohli, it is Rohit Sharma who will be leading the side. He opens the innings along with Shikhar Dhawan. Both of them look in good form and will be key to India’s success in the series. India has made a few rejigs in the T20 squad as compared to the ODI side. Ambati Rayudu gives way with Rishabh Pant joining the side for the T20Is.
Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni and Shubman Gill complete India’s batting attack. India will be playing three wicket-keepers but it is likely that their first choice keeper will be former skipper, Dhoni. India’s all-rounder line-up looks impressive with Kedar Jadhav, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar added in the side. Players who can bat and ball, the team management will be keen to see how these players perform in the series.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be leading India’s bowling department. Mohammed Shami who has had a excellent couple of months will be heading home. In his absence, Siddarth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed are the two other pacers giving Kumar company. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are India’s two spinners for the T20I series.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, K Khaleel Ahmed, Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya
Much to the surprise of most cricket fans, India registered a dominant 4-1 victory over Kiwis in the five-match ODI series. The hosts have a very capable side but their inability to deal with good spin bowling proved to be the decisive factor in their disappointing loss. With the World Cup just a few months away, this was an important contest for both sides. The two teams have emerged out of it with contrasting moods: India upbeat and New Zealand concerned.
For the Indian side, the momentum continues to build as the Virat Kohli-led side seeks to bring the World Cup trophy back to India after the men-in-blue relinquished it in 2015.
The Black-Caps, on the other hand, don’t seem to have the same fluency and buoyant spirit that characterized their 2015 campaign – their best in a World Cup.
Will the T20I Series help?
Who is your Super 8?
Leagues up in the Lobby, Go get ’em champs!