Riding on a high after the ODI series win against Australia, India will now look to conquer New Zealand in a five-match T20I series, the first of which will be played at Eden Park, in Auckland.
India have historically not done well against New Zealand in the shortest format of the game. They have a win percentage of only 27.2 against New Zealand in T20Is, comfortably their lowest when compared to the top ten nations. The two nations have played 11 T20Is to date with eight going to the hosts and only three to India. The last five T20Is too see New Zealand ahead by a 3-2 margin.
Ground details and team combination:
The Eden Park, in Auckland, has played host to three T20 Internationals since the start of 2019 and it has largely been a batsman’s paradise. The average run-rate in T20Is since January 2019 here is a high 9.6 with the average first-innings score being 169/8.
However, on the flipside, bowlers too have been successful here. Eden Park is the second-best venue for bowlers in terms of balls/wicket in T20is since the start of 2019, only behind Westpac Trust Stadium, in Wellington.
So, ideally pack your side with top-order batsmen and hard-hitters but also some wicket-taking bowlers.
On the bowling front, there is little to differentiate between pacers and spinners. Since January 2019, both have an identical balls/dismissal rate of 15.4. However, the straight boundary here is one of the shortest in the world, so having spinners in your team could be slightly risky. In such a case, banking on all-rounders should be ideal.
Among the different bowler-types, left-arm pacers have been the most effective. Since January 2019, they have returned a wicket every 10.8 balls here followed by left-arm orthodox spinners who have returned a wicket every 11 balls during the time frame. While there are no left-arm fast bowlers in either side, both teams have their share of left-arm orthodox spinners. India have Ravindra Jadeja in their armoury while New Zealand have the wily Mitchell Santner in their setup. They are handy with the bat too and should make it to your team.
A combination of five frontline batsmen including the wicket-keeper, three all-rounders one leg-spinner and two fast bowlers could be the way to go for this game.
Since being given the backing of his captain, KL Rahul has been a model consistency in the shortest format of the game. And now that he has added another dimension to his game, his wicket-keeping, Rahul has almost become indispensable. The second-highest run-scorer in the shortest format of the game for India since the start of 2019, Rahul has scored 455 runs in 11 innings striking at 143.1. Five half-centuries in 11 innings further gives proof of his consistency. He will be opening the innings in the T20I series and will have the maximum number of balls to make an impact. The short Auckland boundaries should also work in Rahul’s favour and he will be keen on furthering his credentials in the series.
Our first X-factor is Indian captain Virat Kohli. Kohli’s sheer excellence in the Test and ODI format sometimes mask his T20 numbers but even in the shortest format of the game, he is a beast. The leading run-getter for India since the start of 2019 in the format, Kohli has scored 522 runs in 12 innings averaging a phenomenal 74.57. His record against New Zealand is also excellent. In five innings against them, Kohli has scored 197 runs averaging 49.25. The ball will come on well in New Zealand, something that Kohli loves and he will want to make full use of it.
Our second X-factor is Colin Munro. The big-hitting left-handed opener has been in and out of the New Zealand side and will be a key figure in the T20Is. He often reserves is best for India. In seven innings against India, Munro has smashed 248 runs which includes one fifty and a century. His record at Eden Park is also phenomenal. In 11 innings he has tonked 336 runs at this venue with a strike-rate reading 207.40. Like Rahul, Munro will have maximum balls to make an impact and if he gets stuck no boundary in the world is long enough.
The hard-hitting all-rounder, Colin de Grandhomme has been in good form in recent times. Coming in lower down the order, de Grandhomme can help with a lot of points. Since January 2019, he has scored 301 runs in the format with an average of 27.36. His medium pace is also effective and can help you with a few points there too. Overall, de Grandhomme is a safe package and can have a huge impact.
It is expected to be nice and pleasant in Auckland on match day with the temperature likely to be in the mid-20s range. It will be partly cloudy throughout the day but rain should not interfere at any time.
Colin Munro, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (c/wk), Virat Kohli, Ross Taylor, Ravindra Jadeja, Colin de Grandhomme (vc), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini.