Home Cricket Series in Pocket, India look to Experiment against Dazed New Zealand

Series in Pocket, India look to Experiment against Dazed New Zealand

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India vs NZ
India's Jasprit Bumrah bowls during the Twenty/20 cricket international between India and New Zealand in Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (Peter Meecham/Photosport via AP)

Not many teams would even have thought of winning from the position India found themselves against New Zealand in the 3rd T20I a couple of days ago, as Virat Kohli admitted later. To win from that situation in the Super Over, scoring 12 off the last 2 balls, is the stuff of dreams which will surely boost the confidence of an Indian squad which needs no boosting.

Not many teams would have imagined finishing on the losing side as well from the position New Zealand were 5 balls to the completion of their innings. With another 3 to get off 5 balls and both Williamson and Taylor present on the crease, it was bound to be a cakewalk. What happened thereafter definitely came as a shock to an already depleted and underperforming New Zealand team.

With the series done and dusted, let’s take a look at what both the teams would be aiming for in the 4th T20I in Wellington.

Prior Record: Wellington

India previously played only 1 T20I against New Zealand on this ground almost a year ago. They lost soundly to New Zealand, managing only 139 chasing 220. This Indian team however is a different beast altogether which refuses to accept defeat, the last match being the proof. 

The last 3 matches in Wellington are won by teams batting first, and India will look to do so as well. It would serve couple of purposes – confirming with the prior record of the ground and providing India an opportunity to test their strength once again while setting a target. New Zealand would, however, be wary of setting a target as no chase seems big enough for Indians on current form. New Zealand would definitely take heart from their batting effort from the last match and want to chase.

Time for Experimentation?

With two dead rubbers remaining in the series, India would definitely want to provide chances to the players warming the bench so far. The first direct entry in the XI should be Navdeep Saini in place of Shardul Thakur, who has a knack of picking wickets but was very expensive in the matches prior. Saini with his raw pace would be the ideal candidate to complement the guile of Bumrah and Shami. Washington Sundar could get a look-in too as a replacement for Ravindra Jadeja, who was frugal in the last match.

India’s batting order looks settled with every batsman looking in form. The only batsman who seemed out of touch before the last match, Rohit Sharma, came roaring back into form first with a tone-setting 65, and then those 2 sixes in the Super Over to win a seemingly lost match. However, India may provide a chance in the middle to one of its 2 backup wicketkeepers – Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson – to ease wicket-keeping duties off K.L.Rahul. India would look to win 5-0 according to Virat Kohli. However considering the look of the Indian XI, if anyone of these 2 gets a look-in, Manish Pandey would be the unfortunate one to be benched for no apparent fault of his.

What could the Kiwis do for a Win?

On the face if it, not much to be honest. They have fielded the best XI they could in every match but still failed to get over the line, more agonisingly so in the last match. Their batting is their strength but questions remain over Colin Munro, having a good record against India before this series, but tied down in this series due to phenomenal plans on India’s part.

Colin de Grandhomme also proved to be a failure in the series, and though he had that partnership with Williamson, it was more surreal hitting by the Kiwi Captain which took New Zealand closer to the win. Grandhomme is no longer in the squad, making it an easy decision for New Zealanders to try the lone player they haven’t tested yet – Tom Bruce – in the middle player, which looked pretty light. 

Lastly, Williamson’s heroics last match prompted some sources to predict that he could come up so as to face more balls to have more impact. While it means Munro shifts down, it is unlikely that Williamson will swap his preferred position with that of an opener.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (wk), Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Tom Bruce, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Hamish Bennett, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner.

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