Barring the batting collapse in the fourth ODI, India did not put a foot wrong. They were at sea with 18 for 4 in the final ODI, but Ambati Rayudu steadied the ship and took his team safely to the shores. The result was 1-4, their only second ODI series win in New Zealand. Will India dominate in T20Is as well, is a question only time can tell.
With the bats getting heavier, the bowlers find it difficult to put a plug on the runs. To further fan the flames, the grounds in New Zealand are relatively smaller. The Westpac Stadium is no different. The track here favours the batters. With the wind blowing across, the conditions are kind to the bowlers but only until the ball has its shine.
The average score in the first and second innings read 152 and 130 respectively. The highest total chased is 196 for 5 by New Zealand against England.
Batters and wicketkeepers
Colin Munro is ranked No. 2 in the ICC T20I Rankings for batters. In 49 T20Is he has plundered 1,293 runs, including 3 hundreds and 8 fifties. He will give his all to make his 50th encounter memorable. In the absence of Martin Guptill, wicketkeeper Tim Seifert is likely to open with Munro.
New Zealand boast of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in the middle order. While Williamson scored 162 runs, Taylor amassed 177 run in the ODI series.
Rohit Sharma is a mere 35 runs away from surpassing Guptill as the highest run-scorer in T20Is. He also has the most hundreds (4) in the format. On his day, runs come only in sixes and fours. His opening partner Shikhar Dhawan has as many as 9 fifties.
India will yet again have a selection headache. They have three wicketkeepers in MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, and Dinesh Karthik. India want Dhoni to get as much game time as possible, given he does not play First-Class games anymore. There’s also Shubman Gill in the squad, making the selection process tougher.
Kedar Jadhav was brilliant with both bat and ball in ODIs. He will be even more handy in the T20Is.
New Zealand have four all-rounders. There is no iota of doubt that James Neesham will play. He would have taken New Zealand to victory in the final ODI had he not fallen prey to MS Dhoni’s presence of mind. On the other hand, Santner was ineffective, taking a meagre wicket in 4 matches. Colin de Grandhomme is likely to make it to the playing XI.
Hardik Pandya has been a different person ever since his suspension. He seems more focussed and mightier than ever. He took a flying catch, scalped 4 wickets, and was destructive with the bat. It was his 22-ball 45 that propelled India to a respectable total in the final ODI. His brother Krunal will have to wait for his chance, as India may prefer Vijay Shankar.
New Zealand’s best bowler in the ODI series will not be a part of the T20I squad. Trent Boult, who took 12 wickets at 15, has been rested. In his absence, Tim Southee will spearhead the pace attack.
In New Zealand’s previous T20I, Doug Bracewell blasted 44 off 26 and Scott Kuggeleijn 35 off 15 at No. 7 and 8 respectively. Come to think of it, New Zealand’s batting depth is powerful than India’s.
India too will play without their top bowler, Mohammad Shami. However, they still have the service of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav who took 17 wickets between them.
Bhuvi will lead the pace attack comprising Siddharth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed.
Playing XI for New Zealand: Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Mitchell Santner/Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell, Ish Sodhi
Playing XI for India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant/Shubman Gill, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Siddharth Kaul/Khaleel Ahmed
I have opted for a fantasy cricket team on the basis of players’ impact, recent performances, and credit points.
What is your combination?
My XI: MS Dhoni (wk), Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav, Kane Williamson, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Hardik Pandya (c), James Neesham, Yuzvendra Chahal (vc), Kuldeep Yadav, Scott Kuggeleijn