India is all settled to flag off with a win on its first T20I of 2020 on Friday in Auckland against New Zealand. India had earned en route to their ODI series win against Australia. With Shikhar Dhawan back in form, the top-three were a class apart, once again, and the middle-order had a new responsible and sturdy shoulder in KL Rahul.
The batting setup perfectly allowed skipper Virat Kohli to use his preferred ploy of six bowling options, although Hardik Pandya is yet to fully recover from his recurring injuries.
But alas! With Dhawan picking up a fresh shoulder injury that ruled him out of the T20I and the ODI series, the team management has been pushed back to the drawing board to look at alternatives for their playing XI, one which could be suitable for New Zealand conditions.
IND vs NZ 1st T20I 2020 predicted XI lineup:
Rohit did not play the last T20I series of India against Sri Lanka but the opener shows any signs of laziness when he returned for the ODIs against the Aussies, His scores knocked off the charts after he scored a match-winning 119 in the series-decider at Bengaluru. The limited-overs vice-captain would look to carry this kind of exceptional form in New Zealand. All Rohit needs to watch out for is to not get hit on his pads early on in the innings.
With Shikhar Dhawan not being able to play due to a shoulder injury, KL Rahul seems to be back reigning the top. Rahul had been at the center stage in the last few weeks for his ability to adjust in any position in the strong batting line-up. He also proved that he is more than handy behind the stumps, prompting Virat Kohli to confirm him as the keeper for the first two T20Is against New Zealand.
The Indian captain is keen on experimenting with his batting position to accommodate different players. But the kind of impact he will have when he comes out to bat at No.3 is second to none. There is no reason why Kohli should think of experimenting with this spot in the side in the series-opening first T20I against New Zealand at Auckland.
Iyer did not have a good series against Australia but the talented right-hander showed exactly why he is rated so highly by the Indian team management in the closing stages of the 3rd ODI against Bengaluru. Iyer showcased his ability to get the score and number in anyway possible, if possible off short balls which is certain to come in handy against the likes of Southee, Ferguson and Matt Henry in New Zealand.
KL Rahul eyeing on keeping duties had opened up a secured spot in the middle-order for Manish Pandey, who has spent most of 2019 warming the benches. The Karnataka batsman, who has been in prolific form the domestic cricket, would look to start on a positive note in his first T20I against New Zealand in Auckland to cement his spot for the T20 World Cup.
Ravindra Jadeja had lacked the fire this season, but he has put together performances that have been most important in India’s major wins. His position in the middle-order becomes even more crucial when India would be playing around six bowling options, which is the wise thing to do in high-scoring smaller grounds like the Eden Park, Auckland in New Zealand.
In the 19 T20Is that India has played in the last 12 months, Washington Sundar has been a part of 14 of those, which is the joint-most along with vice-captain Rohit Sharma and one more than Virat Kohli. Sundar seems to have a very unique ability to tie the batsman down inside the powerplay, this can be handy in Auckland, where batsmen get a free license to hit the big shots.
Virat Kohli is not known to play bowlers for their batting prowess or the vice-a-versa but he might be forced to do so in the first T20I against New Zealand on Friday. The Shardul Thakur vs Navdeep Saini debate should go in the latter’s favour hands down if it is based only on bowling skills but Thakur’s big hitting down the order is an added cushion that cannot be neglected especially when you consider the fact that Sundar’s batting has not blossomed yet as per India’s expectations at the International level
India has had a peculiar way of choosing off-spinners, especially trying to follow the one wrist, one hand spinner theory for several months. This had led us to see Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav swapping places more often than would have liked to. While the left-arm wrist spinner was preferred over Chahal against Australia, chances are Chahal might get the nod ahead of Kuldeep in Auckland because of the short boundaries in Eden Park.
It seems like an overtly written statement, but its more likely a fact now that Mohammed Shami had surpassed Jasprit Bumrah when it comes to landing precise yorkers in the last few games. Shami got at least 4 Australian batsmen out bowled in the recently-concluded ODI series and India would hope he continues the same in Auckland.
Bumrah took some time to get to his best after returning from an injury lay-off but India’s premier fast bowler displayed exceptional control in the last 2 ODIs against Australia. When all the bowlers were going at a rate of over 6 runs per over, Bumrah’s economy was on below 4. If anything that Bumrah would like to improve in New Zealand series, that would be to add more wickets under his name.