3 Indian players who were unlucky not to feature more prominently in the T20I series vs New Zealand

New Zealand v India - 3rd T20
Deepak Hooda played a fringe role as Hardik Pandya batted at No. 5

Team India thumped New Zealand by a whopping 168 runs in the third T20I in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, February 1, to seal the bilateral series by a 2-1 margin.

After conceding the opening game, the Men in Blue needed to dig deep. They narrowly chased down the Kiwis' sub-par total in Lucknow before turning in a stellar display in the decider. Hardik Pandya walked away with the Player of the Series award, while Shubman Gill hammered a century in the third T20I.

However, other names were left either on the sidelines or as inactive members of the playing XI. Here are three Indian players who were unlucky not to feature more prominently in the T20I series against New Zealand.

#3 Shivam Mavi

With Team India seeking batting depth and an extra pace option, Shivam Mavi was always going to be part of the playing XI during the T20I series against New Zealand. Harshal Patel had been dropped, and the youngster seemed all set to play a big role.

However, Mavi ended up bowling only five overs in the series, picking up three wickets. The pitch for the second T20I in Lucknow didn't help matters, but he really should've been given more time to showcase his worth. The 24-year-old was not trusted with the new ball and didn't have a defined role for the side.

Hardik Pandya decided to take the bulk of the bowling responsibilities himself, and Mavi was restricted to a bit-part role.

#2 Umran Malik

New Zealand v India - 1st ODI
New Zealand v India - 1st ODI

While Mavi bowled five overs in the series, Umran Malik sent down just 19 balls. He bowled one over in the opening game that went for runs and played no further part in the contest before being dropped for the second T20I as India played an additional spinner.

Malik returned to the fold for the decider and picked up two wickets - the important scalps of Michael Bracewell and Daryl Mitchell. Prior to the series, the express pacer had been establishing himself as a regular member of the white-ball side, but his role reduced against New Zealand.

India need to give him more exposure and playing time in the upcoming games for Malik to be ready for the 2024 T20 World Cup and perhaps even this year's ODI World Cup on home soil.

#1 Deepak Hooda

New Zealand v India - 3rd T20
New Zealand v India - 3rd T20

No batter or all-rounder faced fewer balls than Deepak Hooda in the T20I series against New Zealand. He took strike against only 12 deliveries, managing 12 runs while being dismissed once.

The lone positive for Hooda was that he managed to bowl out his quota of four overs for the first time in a T20I game, registering figures of 1/17. He sent down six overs in total in the series, conceding runs at an economy rate of 5.16.

Hooda doesn't seem suited to his new lower-order role and really needs to bat in the top five if India are to get the most out of his batting. He is a spin-hitter, and his game against pace isn't developed enough for him to bat below the likes of Hardik in the batting order.

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