India vs New Zealand: First T20 International Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Following India's victory in the ODI segment of the series, New Zealand will be looking for a bit of revenge in the shortest format of the game. 

India's convincing limited-overs reign in 2017 continued with yet another ODI series victory, this time over New Zealand, last week. The start of November, however, will bring a substantially stronger challenge against world cricket's perennial dark horses.

The Black Caps have their stance at the helm of the International Cricket Council's rankings for T20I teams to maintain, but will be hard pressed against opposition determined to complement their number one ODI status with more of the same in the shortest format.

India v New Zealand | Wednesday, 1 November | Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi | 15:30

To Win Match
India 46/100 | Tie 35/1 | New Zealand 17/10

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The hosts haven't been at their best in T20I cricket lately, hence their current mid-table placement, flanked by fourth-placed England and sixth-placed South Africa. A drawn series with Australia and one-off defeat to West Indies suggest a lack of cohesion between a string of players unable to convert Indian Premier League individualism to collective success on the international stage.

India, in fact, have never won a T20I against the Kiwis - in six attempts. A severe inability to successfully pursue challenging targets in 2012 and 2016, though, has since largely been rectified - and the tourists will face a battle-hardened chasing unit this time around. The Feroz Shah Kotla, though, won't prove entirely conducive to batting second.

Ironically, India have not yet played a T20I at Wednesday's venue, which has hosted four - all during last year's World Twenty20. New Zealand, however, have played a T20I here once - and lost to England. Each of their top four batsmen gathered promising starts then, but neither converted to innings of substance. At least one, if not two, needs to score 70 or 80 this time.

Personnel-wise, Ashish Nehra is still waiting for a return to the XI after a six-month absence - and Shreyas Iyer and Lokesh Rahul will likely be trialed alongside the tried and tested. Opportunity, meanwhile, knocks for Dinesh Karthik to establish a permanent berth in the middle order on the back of his relative success in the preceding ODI series.

New Zealand
Kane Williamson proudly lauded New Zealand's middle-order strength on the Sub-Continent recently - and will insist the consistency continues this week. The Black Caps largely tend to bat around their captain, who epitomises the adage of 'leading from the front', but a lot more is required of Martin Guptill.

They are, unfortunately, without Corey Anderson. But newer names like Tom Bruce, Matt Henry, Glenn Phillips and Henry Nicholls can make up for the burly all-rounder's absence. Mitchell Santner is a match-winner with bat and ball in his own right - and should not be underestimated by the overconfident Indians.

The roles of Trent Boult and Tim Southee are of great intrigue. Both have been on IPL rotation in the past, cast to the sidelines the moment conditions didn't complement their approach. However, Boult's pace - supported by Southee's seam - could really do the trick through the early stages of the innings in Delhi.

Ish Sodhi has to be selected. A late inclusion in the wake of Todd Astle's injury, he didn't manage to crack the nod for the ODI XI, but is must for the T20Is. The last time New Zealand played India in a T20I, in March 2016, Sodhi took three telling wickets on a Nagpur pitch not dissimilar to the Delhi deck expected on Wednesday.

Verdict: New Zealand 17/10
India are still in pursuit of a first ever T20I victory over the Black Caps, at a venue they've never played the shortest format, leaving the odds against the home side for once.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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