After convincingly winning the ODI series 4-1, India will turn their attention to the shortest format of the game when they face New Zealand in the first T20 International in Wellington on Wednesday.
With Virat Kohli having been given a break, Rohit Sharma will again be leading the side, as he did in the final two ODI’s, and the MI star will be hoping to guide the Men in Blue to their maiden T20 series win on Kiwi soil.
Young dashing wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant, who was not part of the ODI squad, would be eager to make most of this opportunity to stake a late claim for a World Cup spot.
Veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn’t feature in the T20’s in Australia, but will do so in New Zealand. Dhoni still remains India’s best wicket keeper and gave several examples of his prowess in the ODI’s, including one absolutely terrific run out of James Neesham at this same venue on Sunday.
The series will also be an opportunity for the likes of Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav to come good. Karthik has been decent, but a good series for Pant could increase the pressure on the KKR star ahead of the World Cup.
Prodigious teenager Shubman Gill made his debut in the ODI series. The 19 year old showed glimpses of his talent in his short stay but failed to convert it into something substantial. However India are prepared to play the waiting game given the Punjab batsman’s immense talent, and he is expected to get another chance on Wednesday in place of Kohli.
India have played only two T20’s in New Zealand before. Those games were played a decade ago, with the Black Caps emerging victorious in both fixtures. If you think you can get the prediction for this game right, be sure to play Nostragamus– we’ll be doing so as well. One of those wins came in Wellington, where the Kiwis won on the final ball, with Brendon McCullum helping his side overhaul India’s 149.
For the home side, Kane Williamson could play as an opener after Martin Guptill was ruled out of the series due to injury. Williamson was not at his usual fluent best in the ODI series, and the Black Caps will be hoping that their skipper returns to form before the World Cup.
There could also be a debut for Daryl Mitchell, the son of former All Blacks coach John. Mitchell Sr. made his mark in rugby, but his son, who plays for Northern Districts, has chosen to get into cricket.
In the absence of strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah, the likes of Mohammad Siraj and Khaleel Ahmed failed to create an impact in the chances given to them. The other new members included in the the squad are left arm spinning all-rounder Krunal Pandya and Siddharth Kaul.
The Black Caps have rested Trent Boult, who helped them get their only win of the ODI series in Hamilton. Apart from Mitchell, the selectors have also given call ups to pacer Blair Tickner and Scott Kuggeleijn.
India Likely XI
Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya/Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed and Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav.
New Zealand Likely XI
Kane Williamson (capt), Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor, James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Scott Kuggeleijn, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson/Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi