World T20: India vs New Zealand

Written by Jason Dewey for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

India vs New Zealand | Tuesday 15 March | Nagpur | 16:00

Following a relatively straightforward qualifying phase, the World T20 begins in earnest on Tuesday afternoon with the hosts and tournament favourites going up against the competition’s dark horses, New Zealand.

Can MS Dhoni and his charges open their tournament account with a win or will the Black Caps – who have a disappointing World T20 record – silence a rapturous crowd at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur? Let’s find out!

To Win Match
India 5/10 | Draw 35/1 | New Zealand 21/20

India come into this game, and indeed the entire tournament, as the overwhelming favourites. MS Dhoni and his men have won 10 of their last 11 competitive games. Following a monumental series whitewash against Australia "down under", they cantered to the Asia Cup without really having to break a sweat.

They’re blessed with the best T20 batsman the world has ever seen. Virat Kohli has been immense in this form of the game, and the numbers speak for themselves. The 27-year-old averages 52.61 in T20 Internationals. This statistic becomes even more remarkable when you look at his ODI (51.51) and Test (44.02) averages. Let’s just take a look at his last eight scores in T20 International cricket to put his belligerence into perspective: 41*, DNB, 56*, 49, 7, 50, 59* and 90*.

While I could harp on all day about how good a player Kohli is, this Indian side is riddled with world class players and it would be unfair to not give them some column space. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan form a lethal opening partnership while Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane round off what is one of the most frightening top orders in world cricket. If New Zealand can get rid of these guys relatively quickly and inexpensively, they’ll still have to deal with one of the most experienced and destructive middle-orders in the game.

We’ve all seen what the likes of Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina can do in the middle order, just ask the South Africans. Members of New Zealand’s technical team were no doubt in attendance when India played South Africa in an unofficial warm-up match in Mumbai on Friday. The three put in typically belligerent displays as India fell four runs short of South Africa’s 196-8.

While their batsmen will take centre-stage at this tournament, and indeed against New Zealand on Tuesday, India’s spinners will have a massive role to play. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will relish bowling in Sub-Continent conditions against sides like the Aussies and the Black Caps. Their role becomes even more important when you look at their feeble seem attack which will likely be led by Ashish Nehra. His supporting acts, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya aren’t likely to pose much of a threat to the New Zealand top order.

New Zealand
The Black Caps will be looking to shake off their adorable underperformers tag as this year’s World T20, and what better way to do so than to get one over the hosts and tournament favourites, India. Out of their 25 World T20 matches, the New Zealanders have only managed to claim 11 wins. That record simply isn’t good enough for a side of their undoubted quality, and in 2016, they have a chance to set the record straight.

With the retirement of Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill is going to have to step up to the plate in a big way. The opening batsman has been in a rich vein of form of late, and will no doubt have a massive role to play if the New Zealanders are to silence the Nagpur crowd on Tuesday evening. He will open the batting with his captain, Kane Williamson.

The two really do form the ideal opening partnership. Guptill attacks from the word go, targeting the straight and leg-side boundaries while Williamson will manipulate the crease to force the ball square of the wicket on the off-side. If these two can attack the Indian seamers early on and get a strong foothold in the game, then anything is possible.

However, if these two fail to come off, the Black Caps’ middle and lower order don’t exactly inspire confidence. While guys like Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot are all more than capable with the bat, they don’t perform nearly as consistently as the two openers and are largely untested in these sort of conditions.

Much will also hinge on whether or not Tim Southee and Trent Boult are able to keep India’s vicious top order quiet in the powerplay period. Adam Milne’s pace through the air could also provide the New Zealanders with a way of upsetting the Indian batsmen. The Palmerston North native is capable of reaching speeds of 150kph and could unsettle guys like Dhawan and Sharma at the top of the order.

Verdict: Virat Kohli to top score for India at 3/1
I do think India will win this game, however, at 5/10 they offer very little value. Kohli looks an excellent bet to top score for the Indians at 3/1, and in front of his own fans, is unlikely to disappoint.

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