NZ vs IND: There Will Be A Big Battle Between These 3 Indian Cricketers For Opening Position In T20Is
Just after a week from their semi-final exit in the T20 World Cup 2022, India will take on New Zealand, the other losing semi-finalist, in a 3-T20I series starting November 18 in Wellington.
The three senior Indian batters - skipper Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli - have been rested for the New Zealand tour, which also includes 3 ODIs. Hardik Pandya will lead the side in the T20I series with Rishabh Pant as his deputy.
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
The selectors will now look to build the side for the 2024 T20 WC and that would mean that Rohit Sharma, presently 35-year-old and not in the best of fitness and form, might step away from the shortest format and focus on the other two formats.
This would open up a space as an opening partner for KL Rahul.
Here are 3 Indian batters who would compete as openers on the New Zealand tour:
Many fans and experts are championing Rishabh Pant be given a long run as an opener in T20Is by the Indian management.
Pant, who hasn’t cemented his place in the T20I side, has been tried as an opener thrice in T20Is - twice vs England and once vs South Africa, and made good impressions with scores of 26 (15) and 27 (14).
Overall, in 19 innings as an opener in T20 cricket, dating back from 2016, Pant has scored 627 runs at an average of 34 and strike rate of 165, with one century and 5 fifties at the domestic level. Pant also brings in the left-handedness in what is largely a right-handed dominated Indian batting order.
These factors might embolden the Indian management to give Pant a longer rope as an opener in the coming months in T20Is. An indication of their plans could be seen in New Zealand if Pant opens the innings.
It has been felt over the last couple of years with his time in the Indian T20I team and with Mumbai Indians in the IPL that Ishan Kishan’s best slot in a T20I side opening the innings. He was given the opening slot by MI last season and did decently - in IPL 2022, Kishan finished with 418 runs, but his strike rate of 120 was disappointing, for Kishan is at his best when playing with freedom instead of looking to bat through. MI will want the aggressive Ishan Kishan back next season.
Kishan also attained success in India’s T20I side last year as an opener - hitting 4 fifties in 17 T20Is as an opener so far.
Shubman Gill is yet to make his T20I debut for India, which he might in New Zealand. Gill had a superb IPL 2022 season for the title-winning Gujarat Titans side, where he amassed 483 at a strike rate of 132 and raised 4 half-centuries in the season.
Shubman Gill has shown the temperament to play and succeed at the highest level, having attained accolades in Test and ODIs so far. He got into this squad ahead of Prithvi Shaw and Rahul Tripathi, so that’s a sign that the selectors want him in the T20I setup.