Eden Park in Auckland isn’t the most cherished venue for New Zealand, especially in T20Is. From their first-ever T20 loss to Australia, to the same opponents successfully chasing down 244, and finally enduring a super-over loss to England, the ground hasn’t been the happiest for the hosts. And post the annihilation across the Tasman Sea in Tests, the series against India was supposed to be the beginning of their regrouping. However, on Friday, it was Virat Kohli‘s men, who took the lead in the five-match series by squashing the Black Caps at the Eden Park itself.
Understandably, it was the Kiwis’ bowling attack that turned out to be their Achilles Heel. The stars of the T20 domestic competition in Hamish Bennett and Blair Tickner or the experienced campaigner Tim Southee looked ineffectual during India’s methodical pursuit of 204. The home side created two chances to get Virat Kohli when he was on 20 and 33 both of which they butchered due to terrible fielding lapses. To add to those, their bowlers also conceded too many extras without much reward.
Their batting line-up couldn’t have done any better. New Zealand suffered a minor setback after a breezy opening partnership from Martin Guptill and Colin Munro. But Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor made up for it by threading a stand of 61 from 28 deliveries.
And it may have been 210 or 220 if not for some sensational death-bowling effort by India. In game two, they need their second-string bowlers to lift their game in another potential high-scoring encounter in Auckland. Williamson’s men would also be hoping for the Kiwi fans to outcheer the Indian fans.
As for India, the fringe players in their camp, providing the finishing touches to their victory was one of the biggest positives. But they might carry out changes to their bowling department, having gone for plenty in the powerplay overs. Jasprit Bumrah gave the tourists an injury scare after twisting his ankle in the final over of New Zealand’s innings. However, he is likely to feature in the second match.
The bowling unit, mainly responsible for letting the home side down, may witness changes. Veteran bowler Tim Southee and debutant Hamish Bennett failed to pick even a single wicket between them. New Zealand could draft in Scott Kuggeleijn for Hamish Bennett. Southee was the costliest among the pace bowlers; however, being the most experienced among the lot, the seamer is likely to feature in the second match.
Probable XI – Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert(wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Hamish Bennett/Scott Kuggeleijn.
The home side scored at nearly 12 an over in the powerplay, thanks mainly to Shardul Thakur’s costly two overs that gave away 30 runs. It was India’s death-bowling that managed to pull New Zealand back in the death overs, restricting them to 203. The visitors will most likely swap Shardul Thakur for Navdeep Saini, who has been in a decent form of late.
Probable XI: KL Rahul(wk), Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(c), Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini/Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah.
Focus will be on:
Tim Southee (New Zealand)
In the absence of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, and Matt Henry, Tim Southee had to spearhead a largely inexperienced bowling attack. The seamer troubled the Indian batsmen a handful of times, but, as a senior, failed to produce anything magical. The 31-year old went wicketless for 48 in four overs, including giving away 18 runs in the penultimate over that sealed the game for India.
Yet, Southee is unlikely to be dropped for the second round in Auckland of the T20 series. And the nation’s highest wicket-taker in the shortest format must make this chance count by creating a significant impact to prevent India from taking a near-assailable lead in the five-match series.
Shreyas Iyer (India)
The tour of New Zealand could be the one providing a massive breakthrough for Shreyas Iyer‘s career. With India losing two back to back set batsmen, the right-hander had to stay in the middle to see his team over the finish line. And he did so by maintaining his composure through the pressure situations.
The 25-year old took the chase deep and finished it in the final over by smashing two sixes and a boundary to remain unbeaten on 58. Having secured the man of the match in the opener, Shreyas has set the tone for the upcoming games and the ODI series.
Head to Head
Played – 13 | New Zealand Won – 8 | India Won – 4 | NR – 1
7 – New Zealand have won only seven out of 20 T20I matches they have played at the Eden Park.
3 – India’s chase of 204 at the Eden Park was their third-highest successful run-chase.
TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD
Live Streaming – Hotstar
Match Timings – 12:20 PM IST; 7:50 PM local; 6:50 AM GMT
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