Team India will take on New Zealand in a three-match T20I series, with the opening game to be played in Ranchi on Friday, January 27.
The Men in Blue, under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma, comfortably sealed the preceding ODI series with a 3-0 scoreline. Hardik Pandya will lead India in the T20Is, though, with the selectors having left out the likes of Rohit and Virat Kohli since the 2022 T20 World Cup.
India’s T20I squad against New Zealand: Hardik Pandya (captain), Suryakumar Yadav (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Prithvi Shaw, Mukesh Kumar.
Here are three Indian players who might not get a game in the T20I series against New Zealand.
#3 Mukesh Kumar
Mukesh Kumar first earned a national call-up for India's ODI series against South Africa last year and has been in and around the white-ball squad since. Although he is yet to make his international debut, the fast bowler has become a major focus point in T20 cricket as well.
Mukesh was snapped up for ₹5.5 crore by the Delhi Capitals (DC) at the IPL 2023 auction and is part of India's squad for the New Zealand T20Is. However, he is unlikely to get a game.
Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik are the premier fast bowlers in the squad, and both will be well-rested. Shivam Mavi, who debuted in the previous series against Sri Lanka, is also ahead of Mukesh in the pecking order, while Hardik Pandya is known to bowl his full quota while captaining the side.
#2 Ruturaj Gaikwad
There's an injury issue surrounding Ruturaj Gaikwad, with the batter having reportedly complained of wrist pain. The setback could keep him out of the New Zealand T20I series, but there has been no official word on the matter thus far.
Nevertheless, even if Gaikwad had been part of the squad, he may not have featured for India. Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill seem to be the first-choice openers right now, while Rahul Tripathi impressed against Sri Lanka and can play at the top of the order.
Prithvi Shaw is also part of the squad, and his game is definitely more suited to the shortest format than Gaikwad's. So the Maharashtra-born player might continue to be on the bench, assuming he's declared fit for the assignment.
#1 Jitesh Sharma
With KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant being unavailable for selection, India called up Jitesh Sharma as wicketkeeper for the New Zealand T20I series. The Vidarbha gloveman, though, should be behind Kishan in the pecking order.
Kishan hammered a double hundred in the ODI format against Bangladesh and played all three games of the recently concluded 50-over series against the Kiwis. As a left-hander who can open the batting, he's bound to be part of the playing XI for the first T20I, and all signs point towards him being backed heavily by the management.
Jitesh is an aggressive batter who can finish off the innings, and while India need someone to take on that role, they might also need a player who can chip in with the ball like Deepak Hooda. The 29-year-old is a supremely talented cricketer, but he might have to wait a bit longer to make his debut.
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