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India vs New Zealand: Ruthless India Aim to Seal the Deal Against New Zealand in Rajkot T20

PTI | Updated: November 4, 2017, 6:41 PM IST
India vs New Zealand: Ruthless India Aim to Seal the Deal Against New Zealand in Rajkot T20

India cricketers take a break at practice (Image: AFP)

Rajkot: India are poised for their third T20 International series triumph in five years but would be wary of a strong fight back from the usually plucky New Zealand when the two sides clash in the second game of the three-match series.

The comprehensive 53-run victory in the series opener at New Delhi has put India firmly in the drivers seat as they set their targets on an unassailable 2-0 lead at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Kandheri.

The resounding victory, riding on the swashbuckling batting exploits of their top-order and, in particular openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, was the country's first-ever win over the Kiwis in the shortest form of the game.

The 2007 World T20 champions have produced impressive death bowling with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah leading the pace department, while the spinners also pitched in with some excellent bowling in the middle overs.

Considering the immense all-round strength that the hosts boast of, it's going to be a Herculean task for the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand to prevent India from surging to a third T20I series victory in eight contests, dating back to 2012-13, three of which were drawn encounters.

The last game is scheduled at Thiruvananthapuram on November 7.

The Indian top order batting, with superb stroke-makers in Dhawan, Sharma and Kohli, has to be tamed early if New Zealand hope to keep the series alive till the final game.

Dhawan and Sharma put on a record 158-run partnership that went into the 16th over to ensure that India ended up with a plus-200 total despite a brief wobble towards the end.

The Black Caps' new ball attack of Trent Boult and Tim Southee lacked discipline in Delhi. It's a bit of a surprise that these two experienced Kiwi bowlers have been ineffective with yorkers at the death, unlike the Indian duo of Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar.

And the catching too has let the Black Caps down in contrast to some superb outfield efforts by the Men in Blue.

"We were outplayed in all the areas, fielding included, which is something we pride ourselves on and something we need to be much better at in Twenty20 cricket," Williamson had said after the Delhi loss to Virat Kohli-led India.

Kohli has led the team from the front and is himself fast approaching the 2000-run landmark in T20Is.

If the top batsmen fall cheaply, there are others which include the likes of former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who come to the party and to the home team's rescue.

In the spin department, leggie Yuzvendra Chahal has continued to trouble the Black Caps' batsmen, in particular Captain Williamson and senior pro Ross Taylor who is unable to read the twirl on the ball off the wrist spinner's hand.

Only the left-handed Tom Latham, among the visiting team's batsmen, has shown a consistently sound and effective approach against the spin bowlers.

India had clinched back-to-back wins in the last two games of the 50-over ODI rubber for a 2-1 verdict in their favour.

Incidentally, this would be the second T20 International to be played at this venue on the outskirts of the city which was the home venue of IPL side Gujarat Lions earlier this year. The first one was against Australia in October, 2013, won by the home side.

It has also hosted two ODIs at this stadium in 2013 and 2015 and in both these games India ended up on the losing side against England and South African respectively.
It became a Test venue last season when India played against England.

Playing XIs:

India XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), MS Dhoni(w), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj

New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson(c), Tom Bruce, Glenn Phillips(w), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
First Published: November 4, 2017, 8:22 AM IST

Team Rankings

RankTeamPointsRating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3767 111
3 England 4497 105
4 New Zealand 3114 97
5 Australia 3294 97
FULL Ranking