Playing a T20I series might be pointless for the world in an ODI World Cup year. But, for this young Indian setup, this series means a lot. With seniors like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli sidelined, this is the perfect opportunity for these young lads to showcase their skills.
In any case, with the talent pool available in India, the chances are limited, and it is up to them to cash in. As of now, that hasn’t happened yet. In the first T20I, the target was ideal for the youngsters to step up, but they white-flagged without a fight. Once again, the man in form Suryakumar Yadav was burdened with the task. Even though Surya has been in surreal form, expecting a winning performance in every alternate match from him is a bit too much.
One can blame the selectors, coach, and captain. But in reality, in the opportunities provided to few players, have they justified it? They had runs and wickets to their name before being selected, whether in domestic or in IPL. Adding one player to this group, does it solve the issue or not, is entirely up to that player.
Things to watch out for
-Ishan Kishan has been the biggest disappointment so far. In 25 innings, he has an average of 26.4 and a strike rate of 127.4. In his last 12 innings, Kishan averages 15 and strikes at 116.1.
Even if India swapped Kishan with Prithvi Shaw, what about the other two among the top three? Rahul Tripathi has played limited games, three to be specific. He has been rash in those three innings, but one cannot complain because that is the kind of cricket expected. With Shaw as, well, it is the same case.
-Hence, India’s top three has been poor post the 2022 edition of the World Cup. India’s top three in six matches post-WC have averaged 20.2. If we take out that one century from Surya, the average drops even lower. Surya in three innings as a top-order batter (1-3) averages 65 and strikes at 184.5. But, the remaining batters average 14.1 in 15 innings at a strike rate of 119.1.
-If that is one problem, India have another in the bowling department. At the start, Arshdeep Singh lived up to his expectations. However, off late, he has seen a downfall. In the last six matches, his overall economy is 10.7, and in the last five overs, that rises to 11.7. The no-ball issues add to his woes as well.
If we decipher his 24-match T20I career into four splits, his downfall is clearly evident. In his first six, he had an overall economy of 6.3 (5.7 in the last five overs). In the next six and the following six (7-18), his economy went up to 8.5 (10.9 in the last five) and 9.2 (12.4 in the last five).
-The pitch in Ranchi turned out to be a spinners paradise. Kiwi spinners were able to get better purchase than the Indian spinners from that surface, and that doesn’t come as a surprise. In T20Is in India, NZ spinners have bagged a wicket every 15.6 balls and 17.8 runs. Among teams that have played five or more matches, no team’s spinners have been as successful as them, including the home team.
Pitch and conditions
In international T20s, five matches have been played at the Ekana Stadium, Lucknow, and in all the five games, teams batting first have won. However, in all T20s since 2022, teams batting second have won eight of the 15 games.
In the first innings, on average, 133 runs have been scored. Overall, in the 15 matches, teams have scored at a run rate of 6.8, the second lowest among all Indian venues that have witnessed 10+ innings in this time.
-Maintaining a strike rate of 175+ while averaging 45+ is just amazing, and that speaks volumes of Surya’s calibre. However, there is a chink. In the first T20I, he had a strike rate of 41.7 against Santner (12 balls) and 190.9 against other bowlers. Overall, left-arm orthodox (129.3) is the only bowling type against whom he has a strike rate of less than 145. Santner vs Surya will be yet another contest to watch out.
-Finn Allen won the first round against Arshdeep when he scored 16 off 10 balls. But left-arm pacers are his biggest weakness in the format. In T20I, he has 11.4 with nine dismissals against them. Against no other bowling type averages less than 24.
Despite conceding 27 runs in the last over, Arshdeep might retain the spot. However, if Kishan is replaced by Shaw, then Jitesh Sharma has to get a chance. If he plays, then either Deepak Hooda or Shivam Mavi will have to miss out. This could mean India will go in with the same XI, especially with the series on the line.
India Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (c), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh
The visitors wouldn’t want to change their winning combination.
New Zealand Probable XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner (c), Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner