New Zealand vs India, 1st T20I – India Predicted XI

New Zealand vs India, 1st T20I – India Predicted XI

Rishabh Pant slots back in the middle-order after missing the two ODI series.

Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni
Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The ‘Men in Blue’ don’t have a great record in T20Is against the Blackcaps. It was only in October 2017 that they registered their first ever T20 win against them. Overall, India have won just two T20Is against New Zealand and none in New Zealand. Hence, they will want to set the record straight this time around.

However, they’ve done exceedingly well in the ODI series. After a thrashing in the fourth ODI, India came back strongly to wrap up the series 4-1. It was their first ODI series win in New Zealand in 10 years. The action now shifts to the shortest format as the teams gear up to play a three-match series.

A few new players have joined the side for this three-match rubber. The likes of Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya and Siddarth Kaul are a part of the T20 side. As India look to register their maiden T20I win on New Zealand soil, let’s look at the possible playing XI for the Indian team for the first T20I.

Here is the Predicted XI for India

Openers (Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan)

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are one of the best opening pairs in limited-overs cricket at the moment. They will open the batting and look to give India a strong start.

The duo finished as the leading run-getters of 2018 in the shortest format. Dhawan amassed 689 runs while Rohit made 590 runs. Both their strike-rates were close to 150. While the two of them failed in the last couple of ODIs, they will be itching to get back on what is expected to be a good batting track at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Middle Order (Shubman Gill, MS Dhoni (wk), Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik)

After receiving his ODI cap in the fourth One-Day, Shubman Gill might make his T20I debut as well. In the absence of Virat Kohli, he might be batting at No. 3. He hasn’t had the best of starts in international cricket as he’s failed twice in a row and will be keen to correct that. MS Dhoni is back in the T20 squad after he missed the series in Australia late last year. He has been in decent touch in recent times.

Rishabh Pant slots back in the middle-order after missing the two ODI series. However, unlike the T20s against Australia, he will be playing as a pure batsman. He played a couple of 50-over games against England Lions before joining the squad here. Hence, he should be in a decent rhythm. Dinesh Karthik has been in and out of the ODI side but has been fairly regular in the shortest format over the last year or so. He will don the finisher’s role and most likely bat at No. 6.

All Rounders (Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya)

Maybe, for the first time, the Pandya brothers might be playing together for the national side. Hardik Pandya is back from injury and controversy while Krunal has been a part of the T20 side for the last few months now.

Hardik last played a T20I back in July in England last year. He sustained a back injury which kept him out for close to three months. Off-field controversies meant his comeback was pushed back. However, he’s finally back in the India blue and has been in good form. He has bowled well as he’s picked up four wickets in three innings while his knock of 45 (off 22 balls) helped India finish big in the final ODI. Hence, he will be vital in this line-up.

On the other hand, Krunal was the player of the match in India’s last T20I against Australia in Sydney. He picked up 4/36 in his four overs. Hence, the brothers could play at No. 7 and 8, adding depth to the side.

Bowlers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Siddarth Kaul)

In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will lead this Indian attack. He has been in good form as he picked up 7 wickets in the 5-match ODI series. Though the 28-year-old pacer hasn’t picked up a lot of wickets, he’s been pretty economical. Siddarth Kaul is likely to assist Bhuvneshwar in the pace department. The Punjab pacer has had a decent domestic season. He also had a good ‘A’ tour to New Zealand back in November when he picked up 7 wickets in three games.

Meanwhile, there might be a toss-up between Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Chahal has played all five ODIs while Kuldeep has played four. Hence, the team management might look to rotate the wrist-spinners in this series. But here, Kuldeep might get the nod ahead of Chahal, giving the latter a break after five consecutive ODIs.

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