India vs New Zealand Prediction: Who will win today's 1st T20I match?

India v New Zealand - ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
India v New Zealand - ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
Sai Krishna

If there's anything more unforgiving than a loss in an ICC knockout, it's the modern-day cricketing calendar. Only 17 days after New Zealand beat India comprehensively to effectively knock the Men in Blue out of the 2021 T20 World Cup, the two teams will face off in the opening game of a three-match T20I series. The first T20I will be played at Jaipur on Wednesday, November 17.

New Zealand must be feeling the pinch after suffering another heartbreaking defeat in a white-ball ICC final. In a different country but with a largely similar group of players, the Kiwis must quickly adjust to conditions against India, who have mercifully rested a few key men like Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah. New Zealand will be without captain Kane Williamson, while Devon Conway continues to recover from the bizarre self-inflicted hand injury he suffered at the T20 World Cup.

This will be a landmark series for India as they commence a new era of T20I cricket. With Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid appointed as captain and coach respectively, India will be optimistic of revolutionizing the way they approach the format in the lead-up to the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia. Meanwhile, New Zealand, under the leadership of the in-form Tim Southee, will aim to banish the demons of their loss to Australia with a hard-to-come-by subcontinent series victory.

India vs New Zealand 1st T20I: Rohit Sharma's men begin T20 World Cup recovery

India v New Zealand - ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
India v New Zealand - ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021

India ended their T20 World Cup campaign with three convincing wins, but that didn't brush their woes under the carpet. It's clear that the Men in Blue need to rethink their approach to T20I cricket, especially while batting first, and a depleted New Zealand side might be the best time to start. The 2022 T20 World Cup is already on the horizon, too, and India have little time to waste.

India will take heart from the previous T20I series between the two sides, where they whitewashed the hosts 5-0. More importantly, India's three highest run-scorers in the series, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Rohit Sharma, will form the backbone of the batting lineup again. In contrast, the Blackcaps will be without all three of their leading run-accumulators in the series - Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson.

India aren't anywhere near full strength though, with the lower-middle order and the pace department being areas of concern. Venkatesh Iyer might have to be forced into a finisher's role, while the pace attack doesn't look too solid in the absence of Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

However, India will welcome the return of key performers like Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel, while others like Avesh Khan and Mohammed Siraj will be keen to make an impact after being selected in the squad. The top order might have to do a bit of heavy lifting, but Rohit will be confident of maintaining his incredible T20I captaincy record.

New Zealand's defeat to Australia must still feel raw and it's tough to envision them coming up with the kind of performance that is needed to vanquish India at home, especially without Williamson. India can be backed to commence their new T20I season with a comfortable victory, since they have several in-form players and others raring to prove a point.

Prediction: India to win the 1st T20I against New Zealand

Edited by Sai Krishna
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