Indian team is all set to kick-off their first tour of 2020 in New Zealand. The Virat Kohli-led side will play five T20Is against the Kiwis, followed by three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and two Tests.
The opening game of the T20I series will take place on Friday (Jan 24) at Eden Park in Auckland.
Almost exactly a year ago, the ‘Men in Blue’ visited New Zealand and defeated them in the five-match ODI series 4-1, however, the Black Caps bounced back and sealed the three-match T20I series 2-1.
Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah didn’t travel to New Zealand in the previous tour, so this time it will be crucial for both of them to explore the conditions and make full use of it. On the other hand, the Kane Williamson-led team will look to repeat history as unlike India, they have almost a similar squad like the last time.
So, let’s have a look at five players to watch out for in the upcoming T20I series:
1.) Jasprit Bumrah
India’s pace sensation Jasprit Bumrah had a remarkable past couple of years. He has proved his worth in all formats of the game. His consistency is what makes him a completely different bowler from the rest.
After a break for a few months, Bumrah made a comeback in a series against Sri Lanka, but it wasn’t up to his standards. The right-armer did struggle against the Lankans, but he came back in the rhythm during the series against Australia. Bumrah displayed high-quality death bowling against the Aussies. However, he still wasn’t amongst the leading wicket-takers.
In the upcoming battle with the Kiwis, Bumrah would be looking forward to dismantle the New Zealand batting line-up and get back his form.
2.) Navdeep Saini
Despite being a fresh face, Navdeep Saini would be hoping to rise high in the International circuit. He has shown excellent temperament, especially under pressure situations. The young pacer is undoubtedly capable of destroying the opposing team’s batting unit, and all he needs is regular opportunities to exhibit his talent.
The most important thing about Navdeep’s bowling is his inch-perfect yorkers and that too in death overs. In 8 T20Is for India, Saini has grabbed 11 wickets at an impressive average of 16.63 and an economy less than 7.5. He even impressed Australia’s captain Aaron Finch who showered praiseworthy comments after the end of the series.
3.) KL Rahul
One wouldn’t be wrong to say that KL Rahul is in the form of his life. The Indian opener showed his class with the bat, and now he’s displaying his excellency in wicket-keeping as well. Also, there is no need to mention that Rahul is a crucial part of India’s playing XI in the limited-overs format.
After Shikhar Dhawan’s injury, Rahul gets one more opportunity to prove his worth as an opener, and the upcoming New Zealand tour is going to be a perfect platform. During the recent series held in India, Rahul has given enough hints about his prime touch.
More importantly, the Indian skipper, along with the team management, is backing the Karnataka-born player, and that will surely help in raising his confidence.
4.) Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson had the worst outing as a skipper in Australia, and he would look to change the team’s atmosphere by taking better of India in the upcoming series. Williamson has a lot of experience in T20 cricket, and that will eventually help his side. He has played 57 T20Is. So far in which he has scored 1505 runs at an average of 31 and a strike rate of 121.
The most significant plus point of the Kiwi skipper is that he holds the middle-order at one end perfectly. Playing in home conditions will surely help the New Zealand team, and Williamson knows how to win against the Indians as he had done that in the past.
It will undoubtedly be a challenge for Indian bowlers to keep the right-handed batsman silent as he happens to be a busy player and keep on adding the runs on the scoreboard.
5.) Martin Guptill
The explosive opening batsman from New Zealand, Martin Guptill, hasn’t been consistent in the past few months, and this is quite a worrying sign for the Blackcaps. The right-handed batsman has tons of experience in the shortest format of the game, and that will help his side when they face a quality team like India.
In the leading run-scorers of T20 International cricket, Guptill is at the third place in the list. In 83 matches, the 33-year-old has smashed 2436 runs with a strike rate above 134. He’s only behind Virat Kohli (2689) and Rohit Sharma (2633), who are at the top two positions in the list.
It will be a crucial series for New Zealand’s leading run-scorer as the T20I World Cup is not very far, so he would want to cash the opportunity. Also, this time the Black Caps are playing in their home, so it’s a much better chance for Guptill to gain his form back.