India Predicted XI vs New Zealand, 1st T20I: Umran Malik, Sanju Samson set for return as India look to make fresh start
India will look a very different team to the one that played in the T20 World Cup.
India face New Zealand in their first international series since the end of the 2022 T20 World Cup. While the team looked fairly good for much of the tournament, it all collapsed rather spectacularly in the semi-final, where they looked listless against the marauding England and lost by 10 wickets. Among the many problems pointed out in how India approached the game was how the top order approached the first 10 overs.
With all three of the players that played at the time - captain Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, not playing, India will be starting with an all new top three. While it seems pretty obvious that Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan will be their openers, India have a choice of going with Sanju Samson, who is familiar with playing in the top order in T20 cricket, or letting Rishabh Pant have a go at the position.
While he is almost undropable in Tests and recently proved his worth in ODIs as well, Pant has struggled to find a place in the T20I batting lineup due to his inconsistency with the bat. A number of former cricketers have, however, suggested that India can make the most of Pant's obvious talents if he plays in the top order. If India choose not to do that, they will have to play him in the lower middle order position where he has failed to fire thus far. If they do so, however, they can play Samson or Deepak Hooda if they choose to give the latter game time, their preferred positions in the top order.
Meanwhile, Yuzvendra Chahal is more or less certain to play all three matches in the series alongwith the returning Washington Sundar. It is hard to see both Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik not being picked. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is also set to play despite his poor returns in the T20 World Cup. Finally, Suryakumar Yadav and captain Hardik Pandya will be playing from their usual positions of No.4 an 5.
India's predicted XI for the 1st T20I against New Zealand:
Openers: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan
Middle Order: Rishabh Pant (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (c)
Power-hitter: Sanju Samson
Spinners: Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal
Fast bowlers: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik