Just five days after losing in the World Cup final to Australia, New Zealand lost a series to India away from home. Not only is New Zealand exhausted, it is beaten. Although the top order of New Zealand has performed well, the middle-order has not. Glenn Phillips, the third-highest run-scorer in T20 cricket in 2021, is yet to find his stride in the series. This third and final match of the three-match series between India and New Zealand is deemed a dead rubber after India won the second match by seven wickets.
In this series, everything seemed to be working in India’s favor. Harshal Patel made a strong first impression with his Player of the Match performance in Ranchi, continuing where he left off in the IPL with the purple cap. With the form of R Ashwin, who was making his return to the T20I fold after four years, the Sharma-Dravid partnership couldn’t have hoped for a better start.
Toss and Tactics
In Kolkata, as it has been recently, dew could be a factor to consider, as the team that wins the toss is more likely to choose to chase in T20s. But if India wins the toss for the third time in this series, they may choose to bat first to put their lineup to the test in difficult circumstances. India may try to bring in Ruturaj Gaikwad and Avesh Khan to offer them international exposure.
Key Areas to look out for
Guptill – The top International T20 run-scorer
Martin Guptill, the breakout performer for New Zealand this series, surpassed Virat Kohli’s 3227 runs to become the leading run-scorer in T20Is. Guptill, who has the most sixes in T20Is, is now also the leading run-scorer in the format. Guptill has been New Zealand’s trump card since the beginning, and the Kiwis will be hoping for a similar performance.
The return of Ashwin in T20Is
Breaking stereotypes is one of R Ashwin’s favorite hobbies. He’s bowled 20 overs since his return, picking up 9 wickets at an average of 11.66 and an economy rate of just 5.25 runs per over. Ashwin never got into the wrist-spin hype a few years ago, and he still doesn’t see the point of that in T20 matches. To him, an offspinner can bowl to a right-hander and still succeed, because at the end of the day, it’s all about skills, which he possesses in abundance.
The dynamic duo of Rohit-Rahul
On Friday, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma tied Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan for the most century partnerships in men’s T20Is. Both Sharma and Rahul have been in top form and have wonderfully complemented each other’s batting styles. They have the best starting average in the T20s and will try to continue their blistering opening partnership.
Stats to look out for
- Sharma and Rahul are less than 200 runs away from becoming the most successful opening combo in T20Is, and one of only 11 pairs with over 1000 runs in partnership. Their average is the highest of all.
- With 19 wickets, Ish Sodhi is New Zealand’s highest wicket-taker in T20Is against India.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul/Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Venkatesh Iyer, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Avesh Khan