Over the past few years, every white-ball series has been viewed from the lens of the ICC global event that is next in line. Now that the T20 World Cup is over, the focus is already shifting to the next one in 2024, and with some transferrable skills between the two limited-overs formats, there is one eye on the 2023 ODI World Cup too.
But conditions in New Zealand are nothing like India, the venue for next year’s ODI World Cup, or the West Indies and the USA, where the 2024 T20 World Cup will be held, so the spotlight during India’s T20I series in New Zealand is on personnel and how they approach and respond to in-game situations. Results are important, of course, but as most elite athletes say these days, it’s all about the process.
The hosts New Zealand, like India, were eliminated in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup, but they are not pivoting as sharply. They seemed to have moved on from 36-year-old Martin Guptill, but he was on the bench throughout the World Cup too. Trent Boult is also missing from the squad but that was expected after he refused a central contract, though he could continue to be a contender for big tournaments.
New Zealand LWLWW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
In the spotlight
India’s XI will look vastly different from the line-up that lost the T20 World Cup semi-final to England. That much is certain. Their opening options are Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill and… Rishabh Pant? Who among Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer or Sanju Samson will slot in at No. 3? And is Yuzvendra Chahal likely to get a game after watching the World Cup from the dugout?
India (probable): 1 Ishan Kishan, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Shreyas Iyer/Sanju Samson/Deepak Hooda, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya (capt), 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Harshal Patel/Umran Malik, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
The New Zealand XI is more settled, with Adam Milne likely to take Trent Boult’s place in the line-up.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Adam Milne, 11 Lockie Ferguson
Pitch and conditions
Although T20Is in New Zealand can be high-scoring, Wellington doesn’t always follow that trend, with the average score batting first being 162. The Sky Stadium also hasn’t hosted a T20I in over 20 months. Rain is expected during the day but with the match starting only at 7.30pm local time, the conditions are expected to be chilly but hopefully clear.
Stats and trivia
- India’s 5-0 win over New Zealand the last time they met in this country remains the only 5-0 sweep in a bilateral T20I series involving two Full Members.
- Only eight India players from their 15-man T20 World Cup squad are part of this series.
- Suryakumar Yadav is 286 runs short Mohammad Rizwan’s tally (1326) of most T20I runs in a year. He has three games to make a push for the record. Phillips needs only 28 to pass Guptill’s tally of 678 runs in 2021 and become New Zealand’s highest T20I run-scorer in a year.
“His [Hardik’s] presence in the dressing room and his work ethic are exemplary. The way he leads on the field is fabulous. He is a players’ captain; he is very approachable. All players confide in him, and that’s something I really like about him as captain.”
Stand-in coach VVS Laxman is clearly impressed by the stand-in T20I captain
“It’s a hard transition to make. But those players are always trying to get better, trying to keep up with the younger guys. The younger guys have a different mentality and a team does well when you have a mix of both, they bounce ideas off each other.”
New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi talks about the future without Guptill, and perhaps, even Boult
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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