New Zealand is all set to host India in the first T20I of the five matches T20I series at Auckland, today. Will the injury-hit hosts manage to defeat the in-form Men in Blue?
Well, it looks quite impossible for them as most of the Black Caps player are out of the contest due to injury issues. Lockie Ferguson is suffering from calf muscle-tendon strain, Trent Boult has fractured his hand, Tom Latham has broken finger while Matt Henry has broken thumb.
This is not it, Doug Bracewell has a knee injury, Will Young is suffering from a shoulder injury, Adam Milne has a twisted ankle, and Seth Rance has Achilles tendon injury.
Moreover, India is going to play their best XI and only Shikhar Dhawan is missing from the squad due to shoulder injury.
Moving on from injuries, the Men in Blue are going into this fixture with high momentum as they defeated Australia 2-1 in the ODI series at home. The Black Caps, on the other hand, lost to Australia 3-0 in the test series right before the Baggy Greens traveled to India.
The last time India went to New Zealand, they won the ODI series quite comfortably by 4-1 but lost the T20I series 1-2. This T20I series, however, has five matches, which is an advantage for both sides as they have quite some time to bounce back.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (WK), Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, and Jasprit Bumrah.
New Zealand: Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson (C), Tim Seifert (WK) Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, and Scott Kuggeleijn.
Kane Williamson vs Jasprit Bumrah
This is going to be an amazing affair as two top-class players with lock horns with each other. Kane Williamson has always been the most dangerous batsman of the Kiwis as he is always so calm while batting.
Jasprit Bumrah, on the other hand, never lets his opponent play freely as he keeps attacking him in all the manners possible. The Indian pacer failed in the first ODI against Australia, however, his performance in the next two games changed the game for the Men in Blue.
Williamson has scored 1505 runs in 57 T20Is with an average of 31.35, which includes nine half-centuries. The Kiwis skipper is going to be the key in the middle order as most of the key players are set out injured.
The Indian pacer will try to send Williamson back to pavilion early as he can be a threat and hold one side of the wicket till the end of the innings.
Tim Southee vs Rohit Sharma
This is most probably going to be a one-sided battle with Rohit Sharma dominating it. The Indian batsman scored a century in the winning cause against Australia in the last game, which tells us how dangerous he is going to be on the small grounds of New Zealand.
Tim Southee, on the other hand, will be under a lot of pressure as most of the key bowlers are going to be out for quite some time. So, the responsibility of taking early wickets is going to be on the pacer.
The Indian opener has scored 2633 runs in 104 T20Is with an average of 32.10, which includes four centuries and 19 half-centuries. These stats depict how lethal Rohit is in short formats and with current form, I can just say “Lord save the Black Caps from him”.
If Southee fails to get rid of the Indian early in the innings, then the Men in Blue will either put up a huge target or chase down the total comfortably.
The Indian team is in phenomenal form, while Kiwis were anyway struggling and now with so many players out injured. Their problems have just doubled and looking at this tour, it’s quite long and it is going to be a tough time for the Black Caps.
The Indian team have a great batting and bowling line-up while New Zealand will be dependent on their two or three key players and bowlers. If the Men in Blue succeed in winning the battle against these few Black Caps’ players. Then there is nothing stopping them from dominating this tour.
Auckland is a great batting pitch with amazing bounce that assures the batsman that the ball will come on bat comfortably. Out of 20 T20Is played at this venue, nine have been won batting first while eight have been won in the second innings. This tells that toss won’t play that much influence here.
So, considering everything, Cricwizz believes that the Men in Blue with a sail through in this game and will lead the series 1-0.