Putting into place a T20 side which will have all the bases covered will be the main focus as India prepare to take on New Zealand in a 5-match T20I series. With the T20 World Cup being the top focus for sides, Kohli would want to find out the best combination which can pose a challenge later this year. However, the captain conceded that playing New Zealand in their own backyard was not going to be easy and hence, his side needs to be at their best.
Here in this article, we take a three key player battles which will have a telling impact on the series.
Tim Southee vs Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma will stride out to open the innings and as has been the template for a while now, India’s success will depend on the form of their vice-captain. If the West Indies and Sri Lanka series is anything to go by, Rohit will look to go after the bowling from the word go and this is where New Zealand will look towards the experience of Tim Southee.
Southee can get the ball to swing and seam late and with the new ball can be a handful against Rohit. If the conditions do suit the seamers, the contest between Rohit and Southee will be both riveting and will have a massive impact on the rest of the match.
Ish Sodhi vs Virat Kohli
“Even if you think about revenge, these guys are so nice that you cannot get into that zone. Honestly, we get along really well with these guys and it is all about being competitive on the field,” Kohli said in the pre-match press conference here on Thursday when asked if this series is about revenge.
However, it will all change when the skipper strides out to bat in the series. If his recent record against Adam Zampa is anything to go by Kane Williamson will throw the ball to Ish Sodhi. 2 out of the 4 dismissals of Kohli have come against the leg-spinner and after what Adam Zampa said during the Australia series, Williamson could toss the ball to Sodhi to target Kohli.
Sodhi is also the bowler with the best average against Kohli in T20Is for bowlers who have bowled a minimum of 10 deliveries.
Jasprit Bumrah vs Martin Guptill
Martin Guptill has been in serious form in the domestic circuit and he will be the key for the side up front against the new ball. He has the ability to race along in the powerplay and take the game away from the opposition, but he will face a stern examination when he faces Jasprit Bumrah.
The pacer was frugal in his comeback series against Australia and would now want to start picking up wickets. He looked good as far as his rhythm was concerned and Kohli would hope, he takes care of the flamboyant Kiwi opener in his opening burst.