New Delhi : Ashish Nehra running into bowl one last time at a place where it all began will form the sub plot as India aim to better their abysmal T20 record against New Zealand in the three-match series starting here today.
The opening match at the Feroz Shah Kotla will be Nehra’s last game in competitive cricket and India would look to bid a befitting farewell to the seamer, whose career has been characterised by many injuries and many comebacks. It is appropriate that the 38-year-old will be hanging up his boots in front of his home crowd and nothing would be sweeter than an Indian win against a team that has been their Achilles heel in this format.
India have so far lost all their matches against New Zealand, the fifth and last one coming at the ICC World T20 in 2016. For a team that has stormed its way to the top of world cricket with wins over Australia, England and Sri Lanka, among others, this piece of statistic certainly sticks out like a sore thumb. That aside, India have been on a roll. With series wins over big teams like Australia, India have firmly stamped their supremacy in the limited-overs format. Having emerged a 2-1 winner in a keenly-contested preceding One-day International series against the same opponents, India’s confidence is high and they would look to continue the good work in this slam-bang format.
With a strong all-round and in-form team at their disposal, India will fancy their chances of improving their record against the Kiwis. Fresh from his fluent century in the series-deciding third and final ODI, which made him the fastest to complete 9000 runs, skipper Virat Kohli will be eyeing yet another series victory. He looked in great touch alongside Rohit Sharma, the game’s other centurion, and the two batting stalwarts would eye an encore. Besides the vice-captain and the captain, Shikhar Dhawan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has a better record against the Kiwis among Indian players, will look to shoulder the batting responsibility.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya adds to the team’s strength and the New Zealanders would be wary of him. In bowling, India will look to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah for breakthroughs with the new ball as well as in the death overs. With his match-turning effort on Sunday, Bumrah showed why he is considered the best death bowler in the world. Though he went for 92 in his 10-over spell in Kanpur, Bhuvneshwar has normally been a bowler captain Kohli could turn to. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will be high on confidence after his crucial two-wicket burst at Green Park and he is again going to be the key spinner. Kuldeep Yadav is the other spinner, who could figure in the playing XI.
Then there is Nehra, who will bring to an end 18 years of international cricket journey, and he must be hoping for that perfect ending. Against the likes of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner, it will take some doing.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Ashish Nehra (only for first game), Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, KL Rahul.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson(capt), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
Article source: http://www.freepressjournal.in/sports/india-looks-to-find-maiden-win-vs-nz/1162684