After just 5 days post an intense series against Australia at home, Indians are set for their long tour of New Zealand spread across all the three formats of the game. India don’t have a great record in New Zealand across formats despite that they will take a lot of confidence from the ODI series win they earned last time they were here.
Team India has been playing a lot of cricket this home season but barring Australia no other opposition has presented them a challenge. The tour of New Zealand is easily India’s toughest assignment post the debacle of the 2019 Cricket World Cup and Kohli and Co would want to bury their loss against New Zealand in the semifinals of the World Cup and get one over this Kiwi side. There is a lot to look forward to in this long tour consisting of 5 T20s, 3 ODI’s, 2 Tests.
As the tour is about to begin let’s take a look at 5 battles that can spice up this contest over the course of the next month:
1. Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult
Rohit Sharma is one of the finest batsmen in the limited over formats and is going to face a stern test against this New Zealand side when he opens in the Test format. Rohit has in the past has had some problems against good left arm in-swing bowlers, and this contest with Trent Boult looks fascinating.
The likes of Jason Behrendorff, Mohammad Amir has troubled him in the past, and Rohit Sharma will have a point to prove when he faces his new Mumbai Indians teammate when they square off in this tour. Trent Boult has not been named in the T20 squad after an injury he picked up in the tour of Australia, but he could come up against Rohit in the test or the ODI series and cause some early problems for the Indian opener.
Rohit has a very average record against Trent Boult in the ODI format with Trent Boult having dismissed him 4 times in the 136 balls he has bowled to him. Rohit has a strike rate of only 64.7 against the left-arm bowler. Rohit will be keen to get over his troubles against Trent Boult by the end of this tour.
2. Virat Kohli Vs Ish Sodhi
It’s very hard to find weaknesses when you talk about one of the world’s best but if there is anything that Kohli would want to get rid of his record against leg spinners. Kohli had a tough time against the spinners in 2019 with him being dismissed 8 times out of 14 times in the IPL by spinners.
Adil Rashid and Adam Zampa are two bowlers who have had massive success against Virat Kohli in the recent past. Zampa has dismissed the Indian captain five times in ODI’S which lead to Kohli giving him a lot of respect playing him in the final ODI.
Ish Sodhi might not be a fantastic spinner in the limited-overs format but if he gets his rhythm right this contest can be a good one to watch considering Virat would want to rub off the doubts regarding his record against the leg spinners.
3. Kane Williamson vs Jasprit Bumrah
Kane Williamson is one of the finest batsman going around in world cricket at the moment and is the backbone of the New Zealand batting lineup. Kane Williamson did not have the greatest tour to Australia and missed out on the last test after suffering from flu, but the New Zealand skipper would be looking to brush off his poor form and get back to winning ways against a stern opposition India.
Kane Williamson averages 40.08 against in the ODI‘s and India would want to get rid of Kane Williamson early. Jasprit Bumrah – India’s best bowler at the moment will have his task cut out when he comes up against him in the upcoming tour.
This is Jasprit Bumrah’s first tour of New Zealand, and he would want to get used to the conditions early as many bowlers have struggled in the small grounds of New Zealand but Jasprit Bumrah is a very skilful bowler, and he could be at his best right from the word go. He is a fantastic player of spin bowling and thus, India would be looking up to their talisman to get him early. Jasprit Bumrah vs Kane Williamson does promise to be a mouth-watering contest.
4. Mohammad Shami vs Martin Guptill
Shami has been the most improved bowler over the course of the last two years in the Indian fast bowling circuit. He has become leaner and fitter and this has led to him becoming a wicket hungry monster. This new version of Shami has troubled the best of batsman around the world, and he could again be amongst the wickets.
It is at this very tour last year when Shami knocked hard on the doors for the World Cup selection. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, he was given the opportunity in the limited-overs format, and he really hit the ground running. He was taking wickets for fun against the Kiwis last time around and would be looking to continue his good form on this tour and this time with a lot of white-ball experience behind him he could be in for some great performances.
Martin Guptill had a lot of struggles against Shami the last time India played New Zealand, and he can be in for more trouble if Shami can get his seam position spot on with Guptill’s vulnerability when drawn on the front foot.
5. Virat Kohli Vs Neil Wagner
Virat Kohli has had problems in previous tours of New Zealand against the pace and quality of Neil Wagner. Wagner is probably the best exponent of the short ball going around at the moment, and he made the life of Steve Smith challenging with his extra pace and zip off the pitch in the recently concluded tour of Australia.
Virat Kohli is a much more accomplished batsman as he tours New Zealand this time, but he will have to be at his very best against the threat of Neil Wagner who has been lethal at home conditions. With success against a batsman of Smith’s calibre, he will be looking forward to the battle against Virat Kohli with eyes wide open.
In the tour of 2016 Wagner troubled Kohli with good short-pitched bowling and created angles that found Kohli playing at balls which he doesn’t play usually. Whatever said this is Kohli four years later a much more accomplished batsman, and someone who is very sure of his game. When Virat Kohli squares up against Neil Wagner later on in this tour, we could be treated to some fabulous entertainment. This could easily be the best battle of this series for the viewers.
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