India showed a lot of character to bounce back against Australia in the recently concluded one-day international (ODI)series. Barely a few days later, fighting off jet lag and fatigue, they are back on road with the focus now on the 20-over format.
Team India’s tour to New Zealand kickstarts with a five-match T20I series which will be followed by three ODIs and two Tests.
In their last T20 series, Virat Kohli and co. overcome a hapless Sri Lanka but now face a formidable Kiwi side. The move to not tinker with their squad too much seems a thought based on that but the addition of Sanju Samson and Mohammed Shami is a welcome decision as it adds more spunk to the side.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 23, 2020
A five-match series will also the Indian think tank to test their bench strength and have an idea of their prowess in this format. Another advantage of a longer series is that it will give both sides a chance to come back even if they face defeat early on.
The last time India played a T20 series in New Zealand (2019), Ambati Rayudu was the leading run-scorer (190), followed by Shikhar Dhawan (188). Both are missing this time, with Rayudu out of choice and Dhawan injured.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 23, 2020
Despite injury issues to key white-ball personnel like Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Chahar, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar this past home season, India’s bench strength has come across adequate and raring to go for challenges ahead.
Virat Kohli dropped hints that Rahul’s newfound confidence in his dual role as batsman-keeper has given vital options to the team. According to Kohli, Rahul will continue to keep wickets in both ODIs and T20Is but will open in the shortest format while returning to the middle-order in the 50-over format.
It could mean that Prithvi Shaw is being primed for an ODI debut and a potential pairing with Rohit when the three-match series begins on February 5.
SERIES PREVIEW 👇
The skipper also indicated a change in middle order plans. With Rahul keeping wickets, the fit-again Rishabh Pant could lose his spot in the playing eleven.
Manish Pandey is expected to play as the fifth specialist batsman and Shreyas Iyer will regain his spot at number four.
New Zealand’s performance in the T20Is has witnessed an upward curve- beating India 2-1 in the T20I series last year, then winning the T20I series during their Sri Lankan tour before drawing 2-2 at home against England.
But all the good work has taken a backseat after a drubbing at the hands of Australia over the past month.
One area of concern for New Zealand in ODIs was that their top order failed time and again against India’s incisive bowling unit. Kane Williamson, the mainstay, too, couldn’t exactly fire. For the moment, New Zealand’s leading batsman is happy to lead the side across all formats, but his position is up for review after the shattering defeat to Australia.
On a slightly positive note, Colin de Grandhomme, the all-rounder, has provided the spark lower down the order and will be expected to make an impact in the T20Is. It remains to be seen if the Black Caps opt for two spinners in Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner given the really short boundaries at Eden Park, venue for the first two T20Is.
The average first innings total in New Zealand since January 2016 is 183 – the highest among all the nations.
Among batsmen, Martin Guptill is 64 shy of 2,500 runs in T20Is while Colin Munro needs six sixes to get past Chris Gayle’s tally (105).
KL Rahul (1,237) needs 63 more to cross 1300 runs.
Tim Southee (75) needs two wickets to become the seventh-highest wicket-taker.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (wk), Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Bruce, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Hamish Bennett, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines