India will aim to script victory in their third T20 international series in five years and their first against New Zealand as both teams clash on Saturday. However, the Indian team will also be wary of a fight back from the Black Caps in the ongoing three match series.
The comprehensive 53-run victory in the series opener at Delhi has put India firmly in the saddle for sweeping to a winning 2-0 lead at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
The resounding victory, riding on the exhilarating batting exploits of their top-order and, in particular openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, was the country’s first-ever over the Kiwis in the shortest form of the game.
The 2007 World T20 champions have produced impressive death bowling with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah leading the pace department, while the spinners also pitched in with some excellent bowling in the middle overs.
Considering the immense all-round strength that the hosts boast of, it’s going to be a Herculean task for the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand to prevent India from surging to a third T20I series victory in eight contests, going back to 2012-13, three of which were drawn encounters.
The last game is scheduled at Thiruvananthapuram on November 7. The Indian top order batting, with superb stroke-makers in Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli, has to be tamed early if New Zealand hope to carry on the fight till the series-ending game.
Dhawan and Sharma put on a record 158-run partnership that went into the 16th over to ensure that India ended up with a plus-200 total despite a brief wobble towards the end. The Black Caps’ new ball attack of Trent Boult and Tim Southee lacked discipline in Delhi.
It’s a bit of a surprise that these two experienced Kiwi bowlers have been ineffective with yorkers at the death, unlike the Indian duo of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar.
The catching too has let the Black Caps down in contrast to some superb outfield efforts by the Men in Blue.
“We were outplayed in all the areas, fielding included, which is something we pride ourselves on and something we need to be much better at in Twenty20 cricket,” Williamson had said after the loss in Delhi.
Kohli has led the team from the front and is himself fast approaching the 2000-run landmark in T20Is.
Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, KL Rahul.
Kane Williamson (capt), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
With PTI inputs