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India vs New Zealand T20 World Cup 2021: New ball battle in focus

October 31, 2021 / 08:39 AM IST
File image: Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli

File image: Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli

A week since losing to Pakistan in their first match of the T20 World Cup, India hit the ground again, this time against New Zealand in Dubai with the other results in the group proving to be added pressure for the side. With Afghanistan notching up a big win and Pakistan continuing their winning ways, India and New Zealand have some catching up to do and it could get really difficult for the losing side to recover and make it to the semi-finals.

India will be wary of the big threat that New Zealand pose with the new ball. They were at the receiving end of it in the 2019 ODI World Cup in England and the tendency for such collapses popped up again in their first game against Pakistan when Shaheen Shah Afridi put them in early trouble.

Boult and Southee will hold a similar threat and the attritional battle between Blackcaps' quicks and India's top-order could decide this game.

Team news & probable XI

Hardik Pandya has resumed bowling for India in the nets on the eve of the game and as such he could be a lock in the playing XI. Bhuvneshwar Kumar appears the most vulnerable player from the group that started the game against Pakistan. Shardul Thakur is on the bench and we could see him replacing Bhuvneshwar in the XI for this game. India are unlikely to go into panic mode so early and will mostly stick to the same group of players that played the Pakistan match.

India likely XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy

New Zealand, on the other hand, also lost to Pakistan in their first game and are as much in need of a win as India. They had a forced change in the tournament with Lockie Ferguson ruled out. Adam Milne wasn't an approved replacement before the Pakistan match and as such New Zealand had to change their plans, according to a furious head coach, Gary Stead. Now that India are up to face them, expect Milne to walk into the XI despite Ish Sodhi's success last match. The new ball overs and how New Zealand tie down the Indian batters in the middle overs could decide this contest.

New Zealand likely XI: Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson, Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Tim Seifert, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult

The talk around the team

After the last game, India's tag as tournament favorites suffered a major hit. With the team losing considerable focus in the last week due to the long gap, India will be relaxed and ready to press the reset button. They have had a good few months in the build up to the tournament and are a team that trusts the process rather than results. As such, we shouldn't see too many panic changes and as Virat Kohli hinted the day before the match, they aren't too concerned by outside perspectives.

New Zealand have had a middling few months in T20I cricket, but still remain a strong outfit on paper in any condition. They have some excellent T20 players, although it seemed like they were confused about the exact roles in which they should be employed. Several strategic changes all at once in the match against Pakistan felt like an over-adjustment and we could see that continuing the other way round now that they lost the first match.

Players to watch out

Rohit Sharma: A duck against Pakistan and the potential threat of Trent Boult looms for Rohit Sharma as his World Cup got off to an unremarkable start. Rohit has had a very ordinary record in T20s in the last couple of years, but still, of course, remains an excellent player when he gets going. India will hope he can get past the initial new ball burst to make the latter half of the powerplay and middle overs count.

Kane Williamson: Williamson is easily New Zealand's best players of spin and from the looks of it, New Zealand will get a lot of spin from India. Williamson's anchor role will be crucial if New Zealand are to find runs from the other end.

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first published: Oct 31, 2021 08:39 am