Wellington, Feb 5: The Indian team is all set for another victory, as they brace up to take on the Kiwis at Westpac Stadium, here on Wednesday.
As India dominated the one-day internationals for the most part - the loss in the fourth ODI proved that there were still a couple of areas that can do with some improvement.
Regular skipper Virat Kohli is getting some rest, while the Rohit Sharma-led squad will be hoping it has enough left in the tank to record a maiden T20 series win in New Zealand, following a record 4-1 result in ODIs and a historic tour of Australia.
Earlier, in 2009, India had played only the Twenty20 series on New Zealand's soil, but the hosts won the two-match series by 2-0. After winning the five-match ODI series 4-1 in New Zealand, India now has a great opportunity to take the revenge of the defeat, 10 years ago.
Young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant, who was not part of the ODIs, returns hungrier and has a big opportunity to claim a place for a World Cup spot. Veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back in the T20 mix, after being omitted from the series against Australia last year and his performance will also be keenly followed.
Apart from Pant, the others who have joined the team, include spin all-rounder Krunal Pandya and Punjab pacer Siddharth Kaul.
The series is also an opportunity for Dinesh Karthik, who has done well as a finisher. Ambati Rayudu grabbed his chance with a match-winning 90 in the fifth ODI, probably enough to seal a place in the middle-order.
Another thing India will be curious about is the form of Gill. The 19-year-old is highly rated and rightly so – those who watched him at the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup last year and noted his progress at the first-class level will vouch for that – but he hasn’t yet been able to replicate that form at senior level, with scores of 9 and 7 in two ODIs. Shubman Gill might get chance in the absence of Virat Kohli, he expected to bat at number three.
Indian T20 team is loaded with great players. All-rounder Krunal Pandya and batsman Rishab Pant will strengthen the team. Opener Shikhar Dhawan has admitted that Pant alone can change the scenario of the match. Dhawan did not do well in the last three ODIs against New Zealand and is eager to finish the tour on a high.
In the wake of the coming World Cup, the team will continue to keep Dhoni behind the wickets, so that he can continue his practice, while Pant will be considered as a pure batsman.
The hosts will like to return to New Zealand after the one-day series defeat, although opener Guptill, who was ruled out due to a back injury in the fifth and final ODI against India, has not been included in Twenty20 series. Meanwhile, all-rounder Jimmy Neesham who was not part of T20 squad will now replace Guptill.
In Guptill's absence it is expected that wicketkeeper Tim Seifert would open with Colin Munro.
The opener has been one of New Zealand's most consistent performers in the white-ball formats for his country.
In 76 T20Is, he has amassed a world record 2272 runs at an average of 33.91 while striking at 132.71.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, James Neesham.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Siraj. (UNI)