The Big Picture
Context is a big thing that drives any sport. It drives fans to the ground, keeps players on their toes, and as far as a bigger picture is concerned, makes for compelling viewing. In a World Cup year, with focus on One-day cricket as the teams' aim to zero in on their combinations, there is very little context attached to the 3-T20Is that caps off India's tour of New Zealand but with very little cricket remaining before the all-important World Cup in May, the series gives a chance to players from both sides to present their cases for the marquee event.
The series also gives a chance to hosts New Zealand to redeem their white-ball form after a rather embarrassing 1-4 loss in the ODI series. The Black Caps have hit a roadblock as far as their performances in white-ball cricket off-late. Barring the series win against Sri Lanka, the Kane Williamson-led unit had a lackluster Trans-Tasman T20I tri-series where they lost to Australia in the finals, failed to close out the ODI series against England [2-3], lost to Pakistan in the T20I series [0-3] in the UAE before escaping with a tied ODI series [1-1] thanks to rain. They got a major fillip when they defeated Sri Lanka- 3-0- at home but a 1-4 pounding at the hands of India has yet again exposed the chinks in their armor.
Top-order failure was at the heart of New Zealand's failure in the ODI series. Colin Munro and Martin Guptill failed against the incisive seam bowling from Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. While Guptill is out of the series due to a back injury, the T20I series offers a chance to Munro to redeem his form. The left-hander had a great year in T20Is last year, amassing 500 runs at a strike-rate of almost 180.
Skipper Kane Williamson, too, could not set the stage on fire in the ODI series, notching up just a single fifty in five games. He had a middling year in T20Is last year where he scored just over 250 runs at a strike-rate of 115.66, and the Kiwis will hope that in the absence of Guptill at the top, the likes of Williamson and Taylor spearhead the batting unit. The Kiwis will also hope Jimmy Neesham and Doug Bracewell take their form into the T20I series while the absence of Trent Boult gives them a chance to look at Blair Tickner, who is coming of impressive returns in the domestic T20 competition [15 wickets at 16.66].
The tourists, meanwhile, are brimming with confidence as they aim to cap off their highly successful Trans-Tasman tour with another series win. One thing that has been a constant with this Indian team in the past few years is them scaling territories which their predecessors couldn't. This will be the second T20I series that the Men in Blue will play in New Zealand. They lost 0-2 ten years go in 2009, and with the form the side is in, it offers them a great chance to better their T20I record against New Zealand, which currently stands at 2-6.
The focus will be on Rishabh Pant in the series. With just 5 ODIs left for India to play before the World Cup, the series gives Pant a chance to stake his claim for a middle-order spot, come to the World Cup. The series will also be crucial for the likes of Khaleel Ahmed to stake his claim for the fourth seamer spot in the World Cup squad. while Dinesh Karthik will also look to put in a string of valuable performances after being rested in the last two ODIs.
Venue- Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Match Timing- Wednesday, February 06, 2019, 01:30 PM IST
NZ vs IND Recent Form-
New Zealand- WLLLL
- Of all the teams, New Zealand has the highest winning percentage against India. The Kiwis have won 6 [75 percent] of the eight matches, they have played against the Men in Blue.
- While India has lost two of their last 15 T20Is, the Kiwis have only won two of their last 11 T2OIs.
- The Westpac Stadium is a happy hunting ground for the Kiwis. The hosts have won their last four T20Is at the venue.
- Rohit Sharma has a 91.7 percent W/L record in T20Is while captaining India. He has only lost one of the 12 matches that he has led India in.
What to expect?
The drop-in Westpac stadium is normally a good batting track which gives healthy assistance to the seamers initially as we saw in the last ODI.
Team News & Playing 11
New Zealand will miss the services of Martin Guptill due to injury. Tim Seifert might slot in at the top of the order while the absence of Trent Boult will bring Blair Tickner and Tim Southee in the picture.
Playing 11- Colin Munro, Tim Seifert, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi/Blair Tickner, Lockie Ferguson
India will once again be led by Rohit Sharma. While Kaul or Khaleel will make up for the second seamer, Pant and Gill might both feature in the playing 11.
Playing 11- Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed