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India and New Zealand return to the T20 drawing board

The three-match T20I series between New Zealand and India has been trimmed to two matches after a washout in Wellington. Aside from that and a move to Mount Maunganui, nothing else has changed. In fact, rain is expected for the second T20I as well.

For the foreseeable future, India will strive to locate hitters who are naturally suited for T20 cricket rather than forcing some to play against their natural style. This series will also serve as another tryout for skipper Hardik Pandya, who has been mentioned as a possible future leader in the shortest format. However, they now have one fewer game to compensate for all of this.

It’s impossible to say if New Zealand is better or worse suited to power-hitting. They have Finn Allen at the top of the order and Glenn Phillips in the middle, but Devon Conway and Kane Williamson bat in the anchor role. The hosts would want to see Williamson’s fluency and Allen’s constancy from this series.

The Bay Oval is completely sold out for Sunday’s game. It used to be a relatively large ground, but not anymore. As a local youngster, Ish Sodhi put it, “If I can clear the rope batting at No. 8 or 9, I don’t believe the top six will have any problems accomplishing that.” So, if the rain holds off, anticipate a high-scoring game.

Kane Williamson has struggled in T20 cricket over the past year or so. Following a disappointing IPL season in which he scored 216 runs at a strike rate of 93.50, his problems continued in the T20 World Cup. Despite scoring 178 runs in five innings in the worldwide tournament, his strike rate of 116.33 was once again below standard. Experts like Tom Moody and Stephen Fleming say Williamson is still useful to the team, but he has to increase his strike rate.

In this format, India is still figuring out how to get the most out of Rishabh Pant. It’s odd for someone who seems to be designed for T20 cricket to be unable to get a berth in the starting XI. He is projected to bat in the middle order, but his first-ten-ball strike rate of 112.94 paints a totally different image.

India vs New Zealand – Pitch Report

In seven completed T20Is at the Bay Oval, the average first-innings total is 199. In terms of economy rate, spinners have performed better, allowing 8.05 per over compared to 9.65 for fast bowlers. The last T20I here was rained out nearly two years ago, and the weather might ruin things again.

India vs New Zealand – Probable XI

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India –  

Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer/Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya (capt), Washington Sundar, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal

New Zealand – 

Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Kane Williamson (capt), Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson