Wellington. Having failed to learn from their mistakes, India will aim to change their old playing style with the help of ‘young and fearless’ players in the three-match T20 International series against New Zealand starting here on Friday. India had adopted an attacking style of batting after a dismal World Cup performance in the UAE last year but by the time the next World Cup came around, the top-order batsmen struggled with poor form and could not play freely against the opposition bowlers. India’s wait of nine years to win an ICC trophy like this continued. With the next T20 World Cup still two years away, India have ample time to identify players and groom them with the attack-at-any-cost attitude adopted by England.
Hardik Pandya, the likely captain of the team in the next T20 World Cup, is leading the team in the absence of Rohit Sharma. Acting head coach VVS Laxman has indicated that the management is keen on inducting only T20 specialists to meet the requirements of the modern game. With the 50-over World Cup to be held next year, the focus will now be more on the one-day format but India will be looking to take full advantage of the three T20 matches here and then nine more T20 matches in the run up to the World Cup.
Virat Kohli was in fine form in Australia but Rohit and KL Rahul were criticized for their lack of passion in the powerplay. There is a possibility that all three will not play in the shortest format till the 2024 tournament and in such a situation India will have to plan for the future. In the first match to be held here, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill can open the innings but the management would also like to give another chance to Rishabh Pant in the top order. India are fielding a second-rate team in New Zealand but despite this the team members have decent international experience. Gill, who shot to fame with his impressive performance in the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand four years ago, is expected to make his T20 debut here.
Kishan has been getting regular chances at the top of the order in the last 12 months and this series will be a good chance for him to establish himself as an opener. Sanju Samson has been given another chance and he will be eager to make the most of it. Washington Sundar will also return to the team with this series and he will also be expected to perform well with bat and ball. One of the major reasons for India’s problems in T20 is the inability of finger spinners to pick up wickets in the middle overs. With the upcoming New Zealand series, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal might get a chance to bowl together once again.
India is looking for a bowling line-up with Jasprit Bumrah who can bowl at a stormy pace and in such a situation, Umran Malik is present with the team to play the game. Umran did not find much success in his debut tour of Ireland and England and will look to bowl accurately without compromising on pace. Like Australia, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh are expected to share the new ball in New Zealand. Harshal Patel and Mohammad Siraj, who were on the bench during the World Cup, could also get a chance in the playing XI during the series. On the other hand, New Zealand will field a strong team led by Kane Williamson.
New Zealand, like India, are reeling from yet another defeat in a World Cup knockout match and will be aiming to come back strong. In the absence of New Zealand’s Trent Boult, other fast bowlers are expected to be tried. With opener Martin Guptill also missing the series, the onus will be on Devon Conway and Finn Allen to open the innings. Williamson’s strike rate was also questioned during the T20 World Cup and he will also be eyeing to find his rhythm.
The squad is as follows: New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Daryl Mitchell, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi and Blair Tickner India: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Harshal Patel, Mohammad Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik .