India vs New Zealand Prediction: India Predicted XI for 1st T20I - Toss-up between Pant and sixth bowling option at Auckland
After an overwhelmingly successful home season post the 2019 ODI World Cup where the Indian cricket team beat South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Australia in all formats they played in, Virat Kohli and Co. travel to New Zealand for their first overseas assignment of 2020. Considering the nature of series in recent times, the five T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests in New Zealand should qualify as a long tour. India’s tour of New Zealand begins with the first T20I on Friday in Auckland. The series bears special significance in the lead up to the T20 World Cup in October in Australia this year as conditions in New Zealand will be closest to what India would get down under.
Ahead of the first India vs New Zealand vs T20I at Auckland, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, and Rishabh Pant batted together in the nets on Thursday, while Sanju Samson hung around, only to pad up later on. The Kerala batsman didn’t seem to be in contention for the first T20I.
Here’s India’s Predicted XI for 1st T20I against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland
Rohit was rested from India’s last T20I series against Sri Lanka but the opener showed no signs of rustiness when he returned for the ODIs against Australia, scoring a match-winning 119 in the series-decider at Bengaluru. The limited overs vice-captain would look to carry the form in New Zealand. The biggest challenge for Rohit, however, will be to tackle the Kiwi seamers, who will look to target his pads early on in the innings.
With Shikhar Dhawan ruled out from the New Zealand series with a shoulder injury, KL Rahul will be back at the top. Rahul has been at the centrestage in the last few weeks for his ability to adjust in any position in the strong batting line-up. He also proved that he is more than handy behind the stumps, prompting Virat Kohli to confirm him as the keeper for the first two T20Is against New Zealand.
The Indian captain has been experimenting with his batting position to accommodate different players. But the kind of impact he has when he comes out to bat at No.3 is second to none. There is no reason why Kohli should tinker with his spot in the side in the series-opening first T20I against New Zealand at Auckland.
Iyer did not have the best of series against Australia but the talented right-hander showed exactly why he is rated so highly by the Indian team management in the closing stages of the 3rd ODI against Bengaluru. Iyer showcased his ability to find ways to score off the short ball which is certain to come in handy against the likes of Southee, Ferguson and Matt Henry in New Zealand.
KL Rahul taking up the keeping duties has opened up a spot in the middle-order for Manish Pandey, who has spent most of 2019 warming the benches. The Karnataka batsman, who has been in prolific form the domestic cricket, would look to start on a positive note in the first T20I against New Zealand in Auckland to cement his spot for the T20 World Cup.
Ravindra Jadeja might not have set the stage on fire of late but he has put together performances that have been important in India’s wins. His position in the middle-order becomes even more crucial when India want to play with six bowling options, which is the wise thing to do in high-scoring smaller grounds like the Eden Park, Auckland in New Zealand.
In the 19 T20Is that India have played in the last 12 months, Washington Sundar has been a part of 14 of those – which is the joint-most along with vice captain Rohit Sharma and one more than Virat Kohli, speaking the importance of the young off-spinning all-rounder in India’s T20I side. Sundar’s ability to tie the batsman down inside the powerplay is sure to come in handy in Auckland, where batsmen get a free license to hit the big shots.
Virat Kohli is not a big fan of playing bowlers for their batting prowess or the vice-a-versa but he might be forced to do so in the first T20I against New Zealand on Friday. The Shardul Thakur vs Navdeep Saini debate should go in the latter’s favour hands down if it is based only on bowling skills but Thakur’s big-hitting down the order is an added cushion that cannot be neglected especially when you consider the fact that Sundar’s batting has not blossomed as well as India would have liked to in the international level.
India have been following a rather unusual one-series-one-wrist-spinner theory in the past few months. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been swapping places more often than would have liked to. While the left-arm wrist spinner was preferred over Chahal against Australia, chances are Chahal might get the nod ahead of Kuldeep in Auckland because of the short boundaries in Eden Park.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Mohammed Shami has surpassed Jasprit Bumrah when it comes to landing precised yorkers in the last few games. Shami got at least 4 Australian batsmen out bowled in the recently-concluded ODI series and India would hope he continues the same in Auckland.
Bumrah took some time to get to his best after returning from an injury lay-off but India’s premier fast bowler displayed control in the last 2 ODIs against Australia. When all the bowlers were going at a rate of over 6 runs per over, Bumrah’s economy was below 4. If anything that Bumrah would like to improve in New Zealand series, that would be to add more wickets to his name.