After the ODI series left them disappointed, the New Zealand cricket team is hoping to change their fortunes with a changeover to the shorter format. If their current performance is observed, that dream appears far fetched.
The Kiwis have been historically bad at Twenty20 cricket. They are the no.6 ranked T20 team in the world and had won only two out of their last seven series. Their questionable T20 performance coupled with their three ODI loss against India could make them even weaker. The team failed to chase 252 runs in the last ODI against India which could have tipped the series to a more respectable 3-2. The team has batting issues, and Marin Guptill was seen struggling for runs during the series.
As Guptill will be absent, Kane Williamson will open with Colin Munro for the team with wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Seifert coming in at no.3 He will be followed by Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme. Trent Boult will be missing the action too, leaving space for either Lockie Ferguson or Tim Southee to join the rest of the team- Scott Kuggeleijn, Doug Bracewell and Ish Sodhi.
The good news for New Zealand is that Indian skipper Virat Kohli will be missing the action again, after sitting out in the last two ODIs of the series. However, Kohli’s absence doesn’t affect team India much (or at all), since they have won 13 of the 14 matches they played without him. KL Rahul is also out for a public talk show scandal. This could create some problems for the top order.
But the prospects are still brighter for India since they have Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Shubhman Gill doing their job well for the team. Rishabh Pant, a fantastic young talent could be coming in at no. 4. Even if things go wrong there, India has Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni to fill in the middle order.
The bowling options are plenty too. India has Khaleel Ahmed and Bhuv Kumar offering pace combination while Kedar Jadhav, Krunal Pandya, Yuz Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav bowl in slower deliveries. The Kiwi lineup has been especially weak against Yadav and Chahal.
The Westpac Stadium where the T20 will be held has only hosted six matches since 2010, and there is little evidence that night playing conditions will affect the direction of the game. Indians already have a reputation for chasing well. While India has lost only 2 of their last 13 matches, Kiwis has won only twice in their last 10 outings. The T20s could also slide towards the visitors if Kiwis don’t buckle up and give them a good fight.