India became the first team to successfully chase down four 200-plus scores in T20Is, when they beat New Zealand in the first game at Eden Park, Auckland, gunning down 204 with six wickets and one full over to spare. The second match of the five-match series too will take place at the same venue on Sunday (26th January 2020).
With KL Rahul donning the wicketkeeping gloves, ahead of Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson, which paved way for India to play two all-rounders – Shivam Dube and Ravindra Jadeja – and as a result, Virat Kohli had six bowlers at his disposal. This looks to be an excellent combination for India and considering Hardik Pandya is nearing fitness, it will further bolster India’s squad.
The one place up for grabs as far as India are concerned is the No. 5 spot, currently occupied by Manish Pandey. While many believe he is best suited to bat at 3 and not below that, he continues to be backed ahead of Samson and Pant. With a match-winning fifty, Shreyas Iyer has assured himself of the No. 4 spot, at least for the rest of the series.
Pandey averages 51.56, but strikes at 121.80 at No. 5 in T20s since 2018. Pant on the other hand has an average of 27.82 and scores at a strike-rate of 143 in the same period. While Samson has never batted at five in T20s since 2018. India have clearly gone for a more reliable player in Pandey compared to Pant, who although scores at a much better rate, does not guarantee you the runs. Looks like India will persist with this approach at least for this game.
Bowlers from both sides went for plenty of runs, but if India were to make a change in that department, they would bring back Navdeep Saini in place of Shardul Thakur. There was an injury-scare when Jasprit Bumrah twisted his ankle in the middle of his spell, but after a brief period, resumed to bowl. There doesn’t seem to be enough damage done to rule him out of the second T20I.
India likely XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
New Zealand on the other hand did everything right with the bat, with Martin Guptill and Colin Munro giving them an ideal start and the duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor finished it off in style, ensuring they got over 200. But with the ball they were a bit wayward. However, it was Ish Sodhi, who continued his good form against India, finishing with 2 for 36 from his four overs. With Colin de Grandhomme having not bowled in a T20I since September 2019, it leaves New Zealand with just five bowlers.
And in a small ground like Eden Park, having that sixth bowling option could be a wise idea, just like India had. While having de Grandhomme in the XI for his batting prowess is going to help the Kiwis, but he adds very little to the team if he is not going to bowl.
The hosts have Scott Kuggeleijn and Daryl Mitchell on the bench and perhaps they should be given a look in ahead of de Grandhomme for this crucial match.
New Zealand likely XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert (wk), Colin de Grandhomme/Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Blair Tickner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Hamish Bennett
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