After a disappointing start to the T20 World Cup campaign for both sides, India vs New Zealand couldn’t have been set up more perfectly. Pakistan was the common nemesis for both sides in their first match and after a considerable break, the two nations will meet in Dubai on Sunday, October 31, to consolidate their position as the second-best team in Group B.
To get a favourable result in India vs New Zealand is imperative for both teams as Pakistan seem all certain to clinch first place in the group. With only the top two going through to the semis, this game literally becomes a four-pointer. Not only would you get two points from winning the match but you’d also stop your main competitor for the second-placed spot from getting two vital points.
Here’s what you can expect from this match that promises to be a cracker of an event.
After being labelled strong favourites before the start of the tournament, disappointing would be an understatement to use for their performance against Pakistan in the opener. They were outclassed in all three departments of the game, something you don’t often see with this Indian cricket team. The only advantage India would have going into this game against New Zealand would be that the match is in Dubai yet again, the same venue where they played the previous match.
KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma need to give India a head start in the power play but they also need to be wary of the swing ability of the Kiwi new-ball attack, especially that of Trent Boult. Historically Indians have struggled against quality left-arm pacers and it proved to be their Achilles heel yet again in the match against Pakistan.
India have a decision to make regarding the number four slot. Suryakumar Yadav had an off-colour season in the Indian T20 League and his dismissal in the previous match wouldn’t do him any favours either. Ishan Kishan is waiting in the wings and he seems to be in red hot striking form. There is a school of thought that Kishan would open the innings and Rahul can bat at four though that seems too extreme a move to make just after one game.
Hardik Pandya was seen bowling in the nets recently and that is a positive sight for any Indian cricket fan. The team desperately needs Pandya to give them at-least two overs in the match and he balances the squad with him at number six.
India’s bowling seemed too placid in the first game. They lacked wicket-takers in the match and on a Dubai track with dew around, the bowling unit needs to have more edge to get them wickets at crucial stages. Against New Zealand especially, they need to find a way of including another slower bowler and try to strangle the Kiwis in the middle overs against spin. They have three left-handers in their top eight so including an off-spinning option in Ravichandran Ashwin instead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar could be a smart pick.
New Zealand were able to put on a good fight against Pakistan in the match at Sharjah but it wasn’t enough for them to get a win in their opening game. They endured a good start but soon after the power play, lost the plot suddenly. They were obsessed with putting the Pakistan spinners under pressure but misread the conditions and paid the price for it. Had they been more circumspect in the middle overs they would have finished with 10-15 more runs and that could have been enough for them to get the win.
With the ball, it was weird not to see Trent Boult taking the new ball. It may have been down to matchups but one would imagine that against India, the left-arm pacer would be eager to take the new rock. Tim Southee was exceptional in this game and Jimmy Neesham did his part with the ball as well. Kane Williamson used just five bowlers in this game and Daryl Mitchell, who usually bowls at the death, wasn’t required.
The spinners, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner picked up important wickets and their form would be key in the game against India.
India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy
New Zealand: Daryl Mitchell, Martin Guptil, Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert (wk), James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Trent Boult