In Upcoming New Zealand vs India T20, New Zealand host India in five T20Is, starting January 24.
With the ICC T20 World Cup set to be held this year, this is another series that will be highly significant in terms of both teams accounting for their preparations.
It is another high-profile series on the cards and one expects these two sides to give their all and eye consistency in the ranks.
Notably, the Indian cricket team has done well since the conclusion of the ICC World Cup 2019 in England and Wales. Virat Kohli’s men have done extremely well across formats.
In the T20Is, the side has improved significantly and isn’t what the rankings suggest (fifth).
India have played five T20I series since the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup. They have gone on to win four and draw one.
The unbeaten series run will give the side plenty of confidence in order to get the job done in a pivotal series against the Kiwis. Meanwhile, out of the 14 T20Is played during this phase, Team India has won 11 and lost three matches.
India’s recent T20I series saw them beat Sri Lanka 3-0. However, since the upcoming series is in New Zealand, the side will be presented with numerous challenges.
Interestingly, the Men in Blue do not boast of a sound record in T20Is against New Zealand. When you look at the head-to-head record between the two sides, out of 11 meetings, the Kiwis have won eight.
And then when you look at their meetings in New Zealand itself, the hosts have a 4-1 margin in their favour. Team India’s win percentage in New Zealand is just 20.
However, with five T20I matches on offer this time around, the Indian cricket team has a real chance to get going and win a maiden bilateral T20 series here.
The first two T20Is are in Auckland on January 24 and 26 respectively. The third T20I is in Hamilton (January 29), fourth match in Wellington (January 31) and the fifth on February 2 in Mount Maunganui.
Ahead of the series, we look at the players, who could have the maximum influence.
Kohli and Rohit will hog the limelight for Team India
India’s two principle senior batsmen Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been superb in limited-overs cricket over the past decade.
They were magnificent in the recently-concluded ODIs against Australia. And now the focus shifts on T20Is and these two will be up for the task looming for the side.
When you look at the numbers, Kohli leads the run-scoring charts in the shortest format (2,689) at an average of 52.72. He has 24 fifty-plus scores under his belt.
Opener Rohit has amassed 2,633 runs at 32.10. He has 23 fifty-plus scores to his name. These two have been on a different level in the format and have scored at will.
Kohli, in particular, is a master while chasing and that is a bonus for the side. Rohit can get the big shots and score rapidly atop.
A strong series can help Mohammed Shami with World T20 in focus
What India can count on is the presence of star fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. The former has done exceptionally well in ODIs of late, however, he has the chance of impressing in the T20I format.
With the World T20 on offer, there are places up for grabs and Shami knows this series will be an important one for him.
He has featured in just eight T20Is in his career and has claimed 10 scalps. His economy-rate of 9.93 is on the higher side. However, Shami has been doing well in both ODIs and Tests.
That belief could see him burst into the T20I scene. He has done reasonably well at the death of late and that’s what needed. He can support star pacer Jasprit Bumrah.
For Shami, this series will be huge in terms of being in the selectors’ radar when the World T20 squad is announced.
New Zealand will need Williamson and Taylor to step up
The Kiwis will want to see senior players taking up the challenge and delivering the goods. New Zealand lost 2-3 against England in November 2019 and they know this is a chance to get things right and provide a stern fight.
Skipper Kane Williamson, who missed the T20Is against England, returns for the series against India.
He is a vital cog in this Kiwi set-up. In 57 T20Is, he has scored an impressive 1,505 runs at 31.35. He can bring a sense of calmness and authority in this batting unit.
Then there is the presence of veteran Ross Taylor. The right-handed batsman wasn’t much consistent against England. However, he needs to better himself in terms of keeping the middle order in shape.
Taylor has bags of experience after having featured in 95 T20Is. He will want to make things count against a strong Indian team.
Tim Southee has to bring his experience into play in absence of key pacers
New Zealand are injury-hit at the moment and star pacers Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson are absent with respective injuries. This brings veteran right-arm pacer Tim Southee in focus.
The senior figure has 75 T20I scalps under his belt. The 31-year-old claimed just four scalps against England in the 2019 series.
However, he did reasonably well against Sri Lanka prior to that. With conditions assisting swing and seam, Southee will relish bowling against India’s top order. This is absolute quality stuff.
He knows the threat India will carry in batting and there’s a chance for him to dust himself and get the ball to do the talking.
If New Zealand are to do well, Southee will be needed to claim wickets at the top and put India under pressure.
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