India completely bossed their last home season which ended just three days back. Against every team and in each format, India came on the top. The Men in Blue failed to win just one series this home season – T20 series against South Africa which resulted into the draw. Remaining invincible in the longest format, they lost five matches – three T20Is and two ODIs.
India’s team in the T20 side is slightly a concern, considering the vast pool of resources. The Indian team management needs to find out attacking middle-order batsmen and a partner for Jasprit Bumrah in the death. Whilst the auditions to fill the spots in the bowling department are in progress, India ain’t doing very a great job to build the middle-order. Now, India move to New Zealand to get a clearer picture, in a highly packed schedule.
The number five T20I side in the ICC rankings have failed to clinch a T20 series in two attempts in the Kiwi land. To better their record, the BCCI announced a full-strength squad for this tour. However, Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan are not part of the squad because of injury issues. This T20I leg will be crucial for the players whose place in the side isn’t cemented yet, as the T20 World Cup 2020 is just nine months away.
Here, we have featured three Indian players to watch out for in the T20I series against New Zealand:
1. Rishabh Pant
Despite being fit and available in India’s last ODI, Rishabh Pant was not picked in the playing XI. Pant looked good in the home ODI series against the West Indies but was dropped. After the match, the Indian captain Virat Kohli confirmed in the press conference that India will stick with KL Rahul as wicket-keeper for a while. The question arises – will Pant play solely as a batsman in the T20 series? Ideally, he should be in India’s XI.
India already lack attacking batsmen in the middle-order, and dropping Pant won’t help India. Rishabh Pant is the best bet for that role and should be backed. As far as the selections for the international T20 team is concerned, the performance of players in the IPL is highly influential. The southpaw has been the best middle-order batsman for Delhi Capitals since the past couple of seasons.
The 22-year-old has failed to come up with the same returns at the international level, but some players take time in yielding the best results. Pant likes to play in New Zealand. In three matches in New Zealand, he has scored 72 runs with an average of 36, and a whopping strike rate of 144 – the best for him in any nation. The grounds of New Zealand have good batting surfaces, short boundaries, and will suit Pant. Therefore, the talented lad can have a breakthrough series.
2. Yuzvendra Chahal
India’s premium leg-spinner in the white-ball cricket – Yuzvendra Chahal has been out of action for a while. After the World Cup 2019, Team India has played 23 matches in the limited-overs cricket – nine ODIs and fourteen T20Is. And, Chahal has featured only in seven games – one ODI and six T20Is. He has gone wicket-less only in a couple of matches – his last two matches.
It is not easy for any bowler to perform well in New Zealand because of the pocket-sized grounds. And, the job becomes even tougher for spinners because the pitches are generally flat. The spinners fail to extract a significant amount of turn from the decks. Since 2015 in T20Is, spinners have the worst economy (8.32) and the second-worst bowling average (25.77) in the Kiwi land (countries which have hosted at least 20 matches are taken into the account). Howbeit, the strike rate (18.5) is the third-best in any nation which has hosted a minimum of twenty matches.
The 29-year-old hasn’t been up to the mark in New Zealand in the shortest format, however, the sample size is quite small. In ODIs, Chahal has been very imposing. The Blackcaps will have just one left-handed batsman (Colin Munro) in their top six. Thus, India should look to have a leg-spinner in their XI.
3. Sanju Samson
Picked, dropped, picked, dropped, picked – This has been the story of Sanju Samson’s international career so far. Samson has replaced the injured Shikhar Dhawan in the Indian T20 squad for the series against New Zealand. Will he get the opportunity to showcase his skills, though?
Since there are five matches in T20 series, Samson should get at least one match to play. Whenever he gets a chance, he should be batting in the top three only because his numbers are not very great in the middle order. In India’s last T20 against Sri Lanka, the right-handed batsman smacked a six on the first ball and got out on the second ball. Even though Samson didn’t score much, he did display his intent.
The wicketkeeper-batsman is an excellent of spin and good against pace as well. The elegant batsman is a sweet timer of the ball and possesses the power game as well. The 25-year-old has the skills and has oodles of potential. However, he has lacked consistency which he himself believes is not required for his game-play.
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