NZ will be without Williamson, Boult, Conway and Ferguson, while India ponder on sixth batter
On a shortlist of things you would least like to do after losing a World Cup final to a traditional rival would be turning up in a different time zone a mere three days later to play another series. However, New Zealand can’t afford to think of that because they will be confronted by an Indian side that is looking for some redemption after an early exit in that very same World Cup – partly contributed to by a loss against New Zealand itself.
While one T20 World Cup is done, in some sense, the preparation for the next one starts with this first game because the it is just 11 months away. And both teams missing some key personnel may not be the worst thing because it will allow them to test those who are otherwise on the fringes.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWW
In the spotlight
Rohit Sharma as captain is not unknown quantity by any means, but this will still feel like something approaching fresh territory. He will be leading India as the full-time T20I captain for the first time, and has a completely revamped backroom staff now. There were signs in the T20 World Cup that Rohit was looking to be more aggressive upfront instead of playing his normal method of settling in and then unleashing sixes. Will he continue with that, or revert to his tried-and-tested method during the settling-in period of a new role and new coaches?
India will have to decide on who their sixth batter will be from among Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer. While Shreyas was the incumbent before his injury in the first quarter of the year, Gaikwad has been on a form tear since the second leg of the IPL. Venkatesh also had a good second leg, and offers a bowling option. Moreover, he has batted at Nos. 5 and 6 with some regularity for his home state Madhya Pradesh, and it is those positions India need to look at given a surfeit of options at the top. Pure form favours Gaikwad even as the all-round option is Venkatesh, while Shreyas has the experience of batting lower down for India, and doing well against England.
India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Ishan Kishan, 4 Venkatesh Iyer/Shreyas Iyer/Ruturaj Gaikwad, 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
New Zealand (possible): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Daryl Mitchell, 3 Glenn Phillips, 4 Mark Chapman, 5 Tim Seifert (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee (capt), 10 Adam Milne/Lockie Ferguson, 11 Ish Sodhi
Pitch and conditions
The last time a T20 game at the senior level was played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur was during the IPL in April 2019. The pitches then were batting friendly, although bowlers could extract something from them. The larger ground dimensions gives spinners some cover too, and since 2019, they have had a better average and economy rate than fast bowlers. However, no T20I has been held there yet. It is a night game, so dew could be a factor.
Stats and trivia
“They are a very good team, they are well led, they are well planned and well prepared, and yes, they have beaten India recently in a few tournaments – those are the facts. Herein lies a really good opportunity for us to keep improving and keep getting better, and hopefully the next time we get an opportunity in a big tournament against them, we put one over.”.
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“It’s busy and we haven’t really had a chance to stop and think after the disappointment in the way things finished in the T20 World Cup final, but we have to shift our focus to this series and then obviously for the Test series. To represent your country is a great honour, so that gets me up and going.”
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Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo