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Match Preview – New Zealand vs India, India in New Zealand 2022/23, 1st T20I

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In recent years, each white-ball series has been viewed through the lens of the ICC global event at hand. With the T20 World Cup over, the focus is already shifting to the next one in 2024, and with some transferable skills between the two limited-over formats, one eye is also on the ODI World Cup 2023.

But conditions in New Zealand are nothing like India, the venue for next year’s ODI World Cup, or the West Indies and the USA, which will host the 2024 T20 World Cup, so the spotlight during the T20I series of India in New Zealand stand on staff and how they approach and react to in-game situations. Results matter, of course, but as most elite athletes say these days, it’s all about the process.

From India’s perspective, it’s about picking up the pieces after yet another failed World Cup campaign. This series is about moving on. It is about what kind of philosophy Hardik Pandya, who could be T20I captain in 2024, will adopt as deputy skipper as India tries to deal with their T20 problem. He led in three T20Is this year – two in Ireland and one against the West Indies in Florida – and this tour of New Zealand will be his toughest test to date as an international captain.

The three T20Is are also a chance for India’s next rank of players to make a statement in the absence of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Mohammed Shami and R Ashwin, all of whom were part of the World Cup team. Stand-in coach VVS Laxman said the future of T20 cricket in India lies in specialized players and an aggressive approach. Their lineup and tactics for the first T20I are expected to live up to that conversation.

Hosts New Zealand, like India, were knocked out in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup, but they’re not running as sharply. They appeared to have left 36-year-old Martin Guptill, but he was also benched throughout the World Cup. Trent Boult is also missing from the squad, but that was expected after he was turned down a central contract, although he could remain a contender for major tournaments.

With New Zealand closer to full strength, they start the series as favorites in home conditions, despite their captain Kane Williamson struggling for T20 form. The last time these two sides met in New Zealand in 2020, India won the T20Is 5-0, but the scoreline was not a reflection of how closely contested the series was. Two of the matches were tied and decided by Super Overs.

Form guide

New Zealand LWLWW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
India LWWLW

In the spotlight

Finn Allen started the T20 World Cup with a spectacular elimination of hosts Australia, but his tournament then fizzled out and he finished with just 95 runs in five innings. As Guptill’s successor at the top of the table, Allen’s attacking prowess is unquestionable, but New Zealand need him to combine his extraordinary attacking percentage with some of the consistency that once made Guptill the leading runs-scorer in T20Is. He will have to cut his task against the swing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh in New Zealand’s early summer.

22-year-old Indian, Umran Malik, had a rocky start to his T20I career. His three games have been on small grounds at Malahide and Trent Bridge, and his high speeds have so far proved costly – an economic rate of 12.44. If India plays Malik – they also have Bhuvneshwar, Arshdeep, Mohammed Siraj and Harshal Patel as specialist fast bowlers – then he will have to find a way to provide more control in the small ground in New Zealand.

Team news

India’s XI will look very different from the line-up that lost the T20 World Cup semi-final to England. That much is certain. Their opening options are Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill and… Rishabh Pant? Which of Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer or Sanju Samson will fit on number 3? And is Yuzvendra Chahal likely to get a game after watching the World Cup from the dugout?

India (likely): 1 Ishan Kishan, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Shreyas Iyer/Sanju Samson/Deepak Hooda, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya (capt), 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Harshal Patel/Umran Malik , 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

The New Zealand XI is more settled, with Adam Milne likely to take Trent Boult’s place in the line-up.

New Zealand (likely): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Adam Milne, 11 Lockie Ferguson

Location and conditions

While New Zealand T20Is can score high, Wellington does not always follow that trend, with an average batting score of 162. The Sky Stadium has also not hosted a T20I for over 20 months. Rain is expected during the day, but as the game doesn’t start until 7.30pm local time, conditions are expected to be chilly but hopefully clear.

Statistics and tidbits

  • India’s 5-0 victory over New Zealand, the last time they met in this country, remains the only 5-0 sweep in a bilateral T20I series involving two Full Members.
  • Only eight Indian players from their 15-man T20 World Cup squad are part of this series.
  • Suryakumar Yadav is 286 runs short of Mohammad Rizwan’s tally (1326) of most T20I runs in a year. He has three games to push the record. Phillips needs just 28 to surpass Guptill’s 2021 tally of 678 runs to become New Zealand’s highest T20I run-scorer in a year.

Quotes

“To be [Hardik’s] dressing room presence and his work ethic are exemplary. The way he leads the field is fantastic. He is a player’s captain; he is very approachable. All the players have confidence in him and that’s what I like about him as captain.”
Stand-in coach VVS Laxman is clearly impressed with the replacement T20I captain

“It’s a tough transition to make. But those players are always trying to get better, trying to keep up with the younger guys. The younger guys have a different mentality and a team does well when you have a mix of both, they bounce on ideas.” from each other.”
New Zealand batting coach Luke Ronchi talk about the future without Guptill, and maybe even Boult

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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