Can Rohit Sharma and Co improve T20I record against New Zealand?
Rohit & Co will aim to improve their 2-6 T20 win-loss record against New Zealand, a side that have been a thorn
Team India have been setting the record straight Down Under. After registering their first-ever Test and ODI series wins in Australia last month, the Men in Blue convincingly won the ODI series against New Zealand 4-1 recently.
India have another chance to create a first for themselves as they square off against the Kiwis in the three-T20I series starting today here. In what will be India's second T20I series in New Zealand, the Men in Blue would aim to register their first-ever T20I series in Kiwiland. New Zealand have proven to be a tough nut to crack for Team India in the shortest format. Out of eight T20Is, India have lost two.
After facing off for the first time during the World Twenty20 in 2007, India registered their first win over New Zealand in T20s only in 2017 when the hosts clinched the first of the three-match series at the Feroz Shah Kotla. India then went on clinch their maiden T20 series triumph against the Kiwis with a 2-1 margin.
In fact, New Zealand are a side against whom India have the worst win-loss record (see box). India's poor record notwithstanding, Rohit & Co will hope for an encore this time considering the form in which they are in.
While the ODI squad seems to be have been finalised for the World Cup, there are many places up for grab in the T20 team. A strong performance in this series can also prompt the selectors to consider them as options for the World Cup squad.
Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who was not part of the ODIs, returns hungrier and has a big opportunity to stake a claim for a World Cup spot in the upcoming three T20s. Veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back in the T20 mix after being omitted from the series against Australia last year. His performance will also be keenly followed. He last played a T20 in July.
Following the high of the Test series Down Under, another stellar showing might just convince the selectors to include Pant in the final 15. The series is also an opportunity for Dinesh Karthik, who has done well as a finisher but is still not a sure starter in the XI. Besides Pant, the others who have joined the team are spin all-rounder Krunal Pandya and Punjab pacer Siddharth Kaul.
"Of course, we would be looking to win the series and carry the momentum back home for the Australia series," opener Shikhar Dhawan said on the eve of the match here
Dhawan also had high praise for Pant. "He is an aggressive batsman, an asset for the team. He can take away games from the opposition in a very short time. I hope he grabs this opportunity [in T20s] with both hands," said Dhawan.
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