Few senior players from the World Cup squad are rested for the series, paving the way for some youngsters to showcase their talent and stay on the selectors radar, with yet another edition of the T20 World Cup to be played in a year’s time. It will be the first T20I series for India after Virat Kohli relinquished the T20I captaincy. Kohli along with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja have been given some well deserved rest.
And as expected, Rohit Sharma has been named the new India T20I skipper, with KL Rahul as his deputy. India will be looking to leave behind memories of their World Cup debacle, where they failed to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time since the 2012 edition.
As Team India readies itself to start a new chapter with a new captain and a new head coach in Rahul Dravid, TimesofIndia.com highlights five India players to watch out for against New Zealand in the upcoming series:
Rohit Sharma (Captain)
A prolific run-scorer, Rohit Sharma is the third highest run-getter in the shortest format of the game overall, with 3038 runs, only behind Kohli (3227) and Martin Guptill (3119). He has scored 4 hundreds in T20Is to go with 24 fifties.
Rohit has hit 140 sixes in the format, second only to Guptill’s 155. He is also interestingly, the only Indian batter with 100 or more sixes in the format.
The flamboyant opener is also incidentally the highest run-getter for India against New Zealand in T20Is, scoring 352 runs in 14 innings. He has scored those runs at an average of 29.33 and a strike rate of 135.90. Rohit has hit five half-centuries against the Kiwis with 80 as his highest individual score.
Rohit had a decent T20 World Cup outing with the bat this time, scoring 174 runs in five innings at 34.50 average.
Without Kohli in the side and as a new skipper Rohit will be looking to begin his reign with a comprehensive series win and a good run with the bat. He now has the dual responsibility of senior-most batter and the captain of a young side.
Rohit against NZ in T20Is: M 14 | R 352 | HS 80 | Ave. 29.33 | SR 135.90 | 4x50s
Rohit overall T20Is stats: M 116 | R 3038 | HS 118 | Ave. 32.66 | SR 139.61 | 4x100s | 24x50s
KL Rahul (Vice Captain)
The new India T20I vice-captain KL Rahul is the in-form batsman for India going into the series. He scored three fifties in a row in his last three T20Is in the T20 World Cup, where he was India’s top scorer overall with 194 runs in five matches at an average of 48.50.
Rahul has a very good record against New Zealand too. He has scored 242 runs against them at an average of 48.40. The runs have also come at a very good strike rate of 141.52, which includes two half-centuries.
Overall, Rahul has scored 1751 runs in 54 T20Is at a 40.72 average. He has scored those runs in quick pace — a strike rate of 143.28, hitting two centuries and 15 half-centuries.
Once again, India’s batting performance will depend heavily on the kind of start Rahul and his opening partner Rohit produces.
KL Rahul against NZ in T20Is: M 6 | R 242 | HS 57* | Ave. 48.40 | SR 141.52 | 2x50s
KL Rahul overall T20Is stats: M 54 | R 1751 | HS 110* | Ave. 40.72 | SR 143.28 | 2x100s | 15x50s
The winner of the emerging player award in IPL 2021, Ruturaj Gaikwad, made his India debut this year during the tour of Sri Lanka in July, and played two games. He scored 21 and 14 in the two innings, an average outing at best. But his talent cannot be questioned. And the selectors have rightly included him in India’s 16 member squad for the upcoming T20 series vs the Black Caps.
Gaikwad, a Chennai Super Kings opener, had a dream Indian Premier League season this year, finishing as the top scorer of the tournament with 635 runs in 16 games. He played a vital role in CSK’s title winning run in the UAE. He scored his runs at an average of 45.35 and a 136.26 strike rate, hitting one hundred and four fifties in the campaign.
He has retained his form from IPL to the domestic circuit too, scoring 259 runs in five games at 51.8 average for Maharashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. This domestic run included three successive fifties.
With this rich vein of form, Gaikwad is expected to perform well for India against New Zealand, if he gets the nod to be included in the playing XI.
Ruturaj Gaikwad IPL 2021 stats: M 16 | R 635 | HS 101* | Ave. 45.35 | SR 136.26 | 1x100s | 4x50s
Ruturaj Gaikwad overall T20Is stats: M 2 | R 35 | HS 21 | Ave. 17.50 | SR 125.00
Yuzvendra Chahal is making a comeback to the Indian team after being, rather controversially, left out of the T20 World Cup squad.
India announced the World Cup squad before the second phase of the IPL in UAE, where the ICC event was also played this year. And the non-selection of Chahal, India’s regular white-ball spinner till then, was a big talking point, especially when he started performing really well in the UAE in the IPL.
Chahal ended up taking 18 wickets in 15 games for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, second best for the team after the Purple Cap winner Harshal Patel. His total wicket haul was also the joint best among spinners, with Varun Chakaravarthy and Rashid Khan.
Chahal also has experience of playing against the Kiwis, taking 7 wickets in 10 T20Is against the Kiwis so far. Overall in T20Is he has taken 63 wickets in 49 games and is only behind Jasprit Bumrah (66 wickets in 55 games) on the highest wicket takers’ list for India in the shortest format of the game.
The disappointment of not making the T20 World Cup squad and being in form from the IPL, may work well for the flamboyant India wrist spinner in the upcoming series against New Zealand.
Yuzvendra Chahal against NZ in T20Is: M 10 | W 7 | Best 2/26 | Ave. 44.14 | Econ. 8.13 | SR 32.5
Yuzvendra Chahal overall T20Is stats: M 10 | W 49 | Best 6/25 | Ave. 25.30 | Econ. 8.32 | SR 18.2
Pacer Harshal Patel has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit including the IPL, but is yet to make his India debut.
Patel’s record breaking performance in the recently concluded season of the Indian Premier League propelled him into the 16-member squad for the three-match New Zealand series. This was his maiden Team India call-up.
Patel took 32 wickets in just 15 games in IPL 2021, with a jaw dropping strike rate of 10.56 and walked away with the purple cap. With the likes of Bumrah and Shami given rest for the series, Patel will be eager to make a mark in the India colours too if he gets his chance.
Patel had a record-breaking run in the IPL 2021. He started his campaign with a five-wicket haul against Mumbai Indians — 5 for 27. He then took a hat-trick against the Mumbai side in the UAE leg of the season. And his 32-wicket haul is the joint best ever in IPL history with Dwayne Bravo (2013 season).
His exploits in the IPL earned him a spot among the net bowlers for the national team during the T20 World Cup. And now, he is ready to wear the India colours against New Zealand.
Harshal Patel IPL 2021 stats: M 15 | W 32 | Best 5/27 | Ave. 14.34 | Econ. 8.14 | SR 10.56
Harshal Patel overall T20 stats: M 57 | W 80 | Best 5/21 | Ave. 26.98 | Econ. 5.33 | SR 30.30
(Photo credit: BCCI/IPL)
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