New Zealand vs India: 1st T20I, Preview - Injury-ridden sides aim for consistency in the World Cup year

New Zealand vs India: 1st T20I, Preview – Injury-ridden sides aim for consistency in the World Cup year

Virat Kohli is set to play his first T20I in New Zealand.

New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Eden Park. Auckland. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear about the venue? Short boundaries? Gazillions of sixes? Flat pitch? Nerve-wracking janglers? Super Overs? Well! If you are an Indian Cricket fan, you’d fondly remember the venue for one more reason. That reason is it happens to be the only venue where the Men in Blue have won a T20I on New Zealand soil. That was during the 2019 tour where the Men in Blue eventually lost the rubber 1-2.

What is with New Zealand that Team India always tends to get fall short whenever they lock horns with BlackCaps in the shortest format of the game? 2007 ICC T20 World Cup super-8 encounter? Lost. 2009 T20I series in New Zealand- Lost. 2012 One-off T20I in India? Lost. 2016 ICC T20 World Cup group-stage encounter? Lost. 2019 T20I series in New Zealand? Lost. Lost. Lost.

In fact, such has been the state that India have lost 8 of the 11 encounters between the two sides. Their W/L ratio of 0.375 is the lowest against any country. But, Eden Park is one venue where Team India have had their say against the Kiwis [won by seven wickets] and Virat Kohli’s men will hope that much of the same happens when they take on Kane Williamson’s men in the first of the five-match T20I series on Friday.

This will be the first time that the Men in Blue will feature in a five-match T20I series, and the extended nature of the series will give both sides a chance to stage a comeback in case of an early hiccup. With the T20 World Cup the theme of 2020, this series will be an opportunity for both sides to zero-in on their team combinations. Both sides are grappling with injury issues.

While Team India is without the services of the injured duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Hardik Pandya, the same goes for the Kiwis, who too are missing some of their prime players like Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, and Will Young to name a few.

Team Combinations

New Zealand

The BlackCaps are coming off a horrendous tour of Australia where they were not only annihilated by the ruthless Aussies but also hampered with a plethora of injuries to their marquee players. And, so none of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry will take part in the T20I series.

That said, there are quite a few players in this Kiwi line-up that have done well against the Indians in the past. For example, wicket-keeper Tim Siefert, who scored a whirlwind 43-ball 84 against India or Daryll Mitchell, who finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in the 3-match series last year.

Apart from the duo, the usual suspects in Colin Munro, who has a T20I hundred to his name against India, and Martin Guptill will open the batting while the middle-order will be spearheaded by the experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi will be leading the bowling unit.

It will be interesting to see whether New Zealand opt for Hamish Bennett or persist with Scott Kuggeleijn, who featured in last years’ T20I series against India. Bennett has been in cracking form in the Super Smash. The fast bowler claimed 17 wickets in 11 games at an average of 17.17 and a strike-rate of 14.2.

Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Scott Kuggeleijn/Hamish Bennett.

India

Virat Kohli said in the press conference that with KL Rahul donning the wicketkeeping gloves, it gives them an option to play an extra batsman. So, going by that logic, will India play both Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant [as pure batsman] or will they leave one of them in favor of an all-rounder like Shivam Dube or Washington Sundar?

Another thing that will be worth looking forward is whether India opts for Shardul Thakur as he offered an option with the bat or will they go with Navdeep Saini’s pace. Also, will Yuzvendra Chahal get a place in the playing XI or will Kuldeep Yadav continue to leapfrog his partner-in-crime? Kuldeep played one T20I last year in New Zealand where he claimed two wickets as compared to Chahal, who managed just a single wicket in two T20Is.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (WK), Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube/Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini/Shardul Thakur.

Focus will be on

Tim Siefert (New Zealand)

The Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman was brought in as an injury replacement, last time India were in New Zealand for a T20I series. And, the swashbuckling batsman made an immediate impact when he racked up a match-winning 84 in the first game and backed it up with another whirlwind contribution in the series-decider. With Munro and Guptill set to open the innings this time around, Siefert could come in handy lower down the order.

Virat Kohli (India)

It is surreal to think that Virat Kohli has never played a T20I in New Zealand. The Indian captain was rested from the three-match rubber last year; a series which India lost. And, while revenge may not be in the mind of the Indian captain for his sides’ semi-final defeat to the Kiwis, he would certainly love to stamp his authority in the shortest format of the game in a country where India have never won a T20I series before.

Stat Attack

0– This will be the first time that India will play a five-match T20I series. In fact, this is only the second five-match T20I series between two full-member nations. The first one was played between England and New Zealand last October.

205– Number of runs Virat Kohli needs to score in order to become the first Indian to rack up 9,000 runs in T20 Cricket. Kohli has scored 8,795 runs [out of which 2689 have come in T20Is] under his belt and is preceded by Rohit Sharma, who has 8392 runs to his name in the shortest format of the game.

49.25– Virat Kohli’s average in 5 T20Is against New Zealand. The Indian captain needs just 26 runs to overhaul MS Dhoni’s record [223 runs in 11 innings] for the most runs against New Zealand.

Broadcast details

TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD

Live Streaming – Hotstar

Match Timings – 12:20 PM IST; 7:50 PM local; 6:50 AM GMT