NZ vs IND: 5 Indians Players To Watch Out For
International cricket comes thick and fast giving little time to properly grieve or enjoy the losses and wins. Just a week after India were embarrassingly knocked out in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup 2022 by England, the Men In Blue take on the other losing semi-finalists, New Zealand, in a 3-T20I series starting Friday, which will be followed by 3 ODIs.
Here is India’s squad for New Zealand T20Is: Hardik Pandya (C), Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (VC and WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli have been rested from the tour while there are a number of young faces in the squad, who all will look to cement a position as India prepares for the 2024 T20 WC.
Here are 5 Indian players to keep a close eye on during the 3 T20Is vs New Zealand:
Everyone believes that it is now the time for Sanju Samson to get a proper, long-term run in the Indian T20I team. The Rajasthan Royals skipper played in 6 T20Is this year wherein he averaged 44 and scored at a strike rate of 158 - typical Samson - but was discarded before the Asia Cup when the seniors returned.
Now, Samson is likely to play in all 3 T20Is vs New Zealand and in the short format series later on. He should look to not just play statement-making innings, but aim to nail down a spot in the T20I side and should make himself undroppable, something the likes of Suryakumar Yadav did when he made his debut last year.
India lacked an X-factor in their bowling department during the T20 World Cup in Australia. While many had wanted Umran Malik there, he was too young and inexperienced to play at that point. Now, with a full IPL season under his belt - where he picked 22 wickets for SRH, though while being expensive - and he is also part of the India A team.
The responsibility for the management now is to look to give him maximum game-time for Malik, the fastest Indian bowler ever in the IPL, is the X-factor that India would want in the 2024 T20 WC
This New Zealand T20I series is important for Hardik Pandya not the all-rounder, but for Pandya the captain, who seems to now be neck and neck with KL Rahul for replacing Rohit Sharma as the T20I skipper.
While KL Rahul is the vice-captain, Pandya has shot up through the ranks in the leadership group. He led the Gujarat Titans to a maiden IPL title victory, and also led India in 2 T20I vs Ireland. A good show as a leader in New Zealand would further strengthen his claim as the next T20I skipper.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has a point to prove to the selectors and the management: that he cal bowl against any opposition and even in conditions and on surfaces where there isn’t much help for him.
India clearly missed a trick by not playing Chahal in the semi-final where England’s Adil Rashid thrived. Chahal was benched for the entire tournament as India went with Axar and Ashwin, two finger-spinners who could also bat, but eventually, both failed to make impact in crucial games or against stronger opponents. Chahal, being a leg-spinner, many thought, could have been more potent.
Nonetheless, this New Zealand T20I series is important for Chahal to regain his status as the first-choice spinner in the T20I team, and to make the management fix him in the XI.
Fixing a place in the XI would also be on the list of Rishabh Pant, who got to play in two matches in the T20 WC, scoring 3 and 6, though he got out to a blinder of catch vs Zimbabwe and came in to bat in the last couple of overs vs England.
With Dinesh Karthik dropped, Pant is now going to be the first-choice keeper, though there is competition with Samson. A certain starter in the XI in the other two formats, Pant would hope to nail down a spot in the T20I XI; whether the management wants to try out Pant as an opener or in the middle-order, we will have to wait and see.