After winning 10 of their last 11 T20 internationals, India are red-hot favourites for the World T20 and former batsman Virender Sehwag said last week he was “99 percent certain” they would become the first team to win the trophy for a second time.
India begin their campaign against a spirited New Zealand at Nagpur in the opening match of the tournament on Tuesday.
Here’s the look at the top five clashes in the WT20 opener between India and New Zealand.
Kane Williamson vs MS Dhoni
Indian T20 captain MS Dhoni will go into the tournament with complete confidence after guiding his team to series victories in Australia and the recently concluded Asia Cup T20. Dhoni knows his team inside out and with the pitch favouring the Indian spinners, he will be ready to continue his unbeaten run in the first match of any ICC tournament. On the other hand, Kane Williamson will be taking over the reins of the Kiwi team from the crowd-favourite Brendon McCullum and with little captaincy experience under his belt, it will not be an easy task. But, his batting form has been brilliant off late and his new-look New Zealand team can be a tricky opponent for the hosts.
Trent Boult vs Virat Kohli
This will be one of the most important battles of the match as the highest run scorer of the 2013 World T20 will be looking to establish his supremacy over the highest wicket taker from last year’s World Cup. Both the players have proved their mettle in the Indian Premier League and are well aware of the Indian pitch conditions. Kohli has been a force to be reckoned with this year and it will be extremely interesting to see how he tackles the spearhead of the Kiwi bowling attack.
Tim Southee vs Yuvraj Singh
The right-arm pacer to left-handed batsman can be one of the best duels in cricket. Add to that the combination of a man in the twilight of his career against one of the best swing bowlers in the world and you know this one can be a deal breaker. But Yuvraj Singh’s resillience has given him a huge fan following around the world and though Tim Southee has proven himself on Indian pitches in the IPL, it will be foolish to discount the destructive force of the Indian middle-order batsman.
Colin Munro vs Jasprit Bumrah
Colin Munro has been a destructive force for New Zealand off late and he currently holds the record of scoring the fastest T20 fifty by a Kiwi batsman after bringing up his half century in just 14 balls. But, he will have his work cut out when he faces the Indian death over specialist - Jasprit Bumrah. The young pacer has been a revelation in the past few matches and he can be the answer to the deatb over bowling problem which has haunted India in the past competitions.
Martin Guptill vs Ravichandra Ashwin
What do you get when a seasoned batsman faces a brilliant off-spinner on a turning track? A great clash, that’s what. Ashwin is well known for his bowling on Indian tracks and if past record is any indication, he will be the main weapon for MS Dhoni when they face New Zealand. But, his biggest obstacle will be the in-form Kiwi batsman Martin Guptill. Guptill has been the most consistent batsman for his side in the recent past and his spin playing ability will give him an extra edge in the World T20 2016.