Pandya resumes T20I captaincy as New Zealand seek first win of tour

New Zealand

Big picture: Gaikwad injured, Shaw set to wait his turn

Rohit Sharma has no plans of giving up on T20Is yet. Rahul Dravid is “not aware” if India have any plans of split captaincy; asked about this during a press conference before the third ODI, he asked the reporter to check with the selectors. But for now, this is Hardik Pandya‘s team. Since the 2022 T20 World Cup, this will be the third successive T20I series where he will be leading India.

Suryakumar Yadav has shown the world what he can do, but the opening combination is one area where India are still searching for answers. Of the four openers they had in their squad, Ruturaj Gaikwad is out of the series with a wrist injury. That leaves Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan and Prithvi Shaw. While Shaw is a compelling option – he is among the quickest-scoring Indian batters in the powerplay – Pandya indicated on the eve of the match that Gill will open; Kishan is a certain starter anyway, given that he’ll also keep wickets.

In the fast-bowling department, Umran Malik and Shivam Mavi will have another opportunity to build on their performances against Sri Lanka.

After being whitewashed in the ODIs, New Zealand will look to bounce back in the T20Is. But once again, they are without Kane Williamson and Tim Southee. Mitchell Santner will take over the captaincy from Tom Latham, who had led in the ODIs. Under Santner, New Zealand have eight wins, one loss and one no-result in ten T20Is. But seven of those wins have come against Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands.

Apart from Lockie Ferguson, their pace attack is also thin on experience. Ben Lister and Henry Shipley are uncapped in the format, while Blair Tickner and Jacob Duffy have played only 14 and eight T20Is, respectively. The good news for them is that Ish Sodhi is fit, and he has great numbers in India: 16 wickets from ten games and an economy of 6.64.

Form guide

India WLWTW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
New Zealand TLLWL

In the spotlight: Shubman Gill and Finn Allen

Shubman Gill has had an excellent start to his ODI career but he is only three games old in T20Is, having made his debut during the Sri Lanka series. He had a good IPL for Gujarat Titans last year; he was the fifth-highest run-getter in the tournament but played more of an anchor’s role, scoring at 132.32. He didn’t have a great time during the Sri Lanka series, and usually takes his time to cut loose. For now, he has the backing of the team management but Shaw will be hot on his heels, especially if he slips up.

Finn Allen kept Martin Guptill on the bench for the entirety of the 2022 T20 World Cup. He even set the stage alight by smashing 42 off just 16 balls in the tournament-opener. But since then, his returns have plummeted: 56 runs in six T20Is, at an average of 9.33 and a strike rate of 136.58. In the last two ODIs on this tour, he made two ducks. Can he turn his form around?

India (probable): 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Ishan Kishan (wk), 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Shivam Mavi, 9 Umran Malik, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal

With Southee and Trent Boult not part of the squad, Ben Lister could be in line for a debut. According to Devon Conway, the left-arm seamer does “different tricks with the ball”.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Finn Allen, 2 Devon Conway (wk), 3 Mark Chapman, 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Michael Bracewell, 7 Mitchell Santner (capt), 8 Blair Tickner, 9 Ish Sodhi, 10 Ben Lister, 11 Lockie Ferguson

Pitch and conditions: Win the toss and bowl

Ranchi is a bowl-first venue, with chasing teams winning 16 of the 25 T20 games hosted here. With dew expected to play a big role in the second innings, captains should have no hesitation in opting to bowl after winning the toss, unless they want to challenge their bowlers. It should be a cool evening, with the temperature hovering around 15°C.

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