After contrasting series results against Australia, New Zealand and India get ready for a royal face-off when a five-match T20I series starts with the first match at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.
The Kiwis are coming off a humbling 3-0 Test series blank against Australia. The Indians, on the other hand, have been going through a lot of white-ball cricket and defeated Australia 2-1 at home recently.
Captain Kane Williamson returns to the side after missing New Zealand’s last T20I series at home against England. The Kiwis are missing some high-profile names due to injuries suffered in Australia – Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson are out prompting a recall for Hamish Bennett after three years.
There are, however, T20 specialists in the side and the hosts will hope to make the best use of that bunch. Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Blair Tickner and a few others will be itching to prove their worth.
India travel here with pretty much a settled squad, barring the injury to Shikhar Dhawan. If anything, that has worked perfectly to India’s benefit, as the likes of Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson can look forward to a playing chance. KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma at the top, followed by Virat Kohli is a potent combination that can work wonders for India.
The return of Jasprit Bumrah adds spice to the Indian bowling unit, with Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur rounding it off. The only area where India lack specialists is the all-round division – with Shivam Dube expected to learn on the tour.
India will start as massive favourites considering their recent run in white-ball cricket. The challenge, however, will be to do a quick transformation from the low pitches of India to the swing and bounce of New Zealand. Otherwise, the visitors look a settled bunch ready to stamp their authority. New Zealand are facing a number of injury issues and will hope that their home advantage counts in the final run. The dimensions of the ground and the array of strong hitters available for this game could be good news for six lovers.
History & Statistics
- New Zealand have won four of their five T20Is played at home against India.
- Eight of New Zealand’s last 10 T20Is have been won by the team batting first.
- New Zealand have lost six of their last eight T20Is at Auckland, winning one and tying the other.
- Seven of the last ten T20Is at this venue have seen the team batting first win.
- India have won six of their last seven completed T20Is.
- India have won 13 of their last 17 completed overseas T20Is.
After a poor Australian series, Williamson will be itching to get back among the runs. A quick return to form could be on the cards, especially if he anchors the innings from the top.
From being on the periphery of the side to being an opener, a middle-order bat and a ‘keeper all within a span of a month, KL Rahul has seen it all. Can he continue his strong form?