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NZ vs IND 2022: 3 probable opening combinations for India for the first T20I

New Zealand are set to host India for a three-match T20I series [Pic Credit: BCCI]
New Zealand are set to host India for a three-match T20I series [Pic Credit: BCCI]

Following their unwanted end at the recently concluded Men's ICC T20 World Cup 2022, India are ready for a fresh challenge as they prepare for a white ball series against New Zealand that will feature three T20Is and as many ODIs away from home.

The Sky Stadium in Wellington will host the first T20 international between the two sides, which will be played on Friday, November 18.

Under the leadership of Hardik Pandya, the Indian team will seek to collect themselves and try out a few individuals in the absence of senior players, including Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.

The Men in Blue will take the field with a brand new opening pair after India's regular openers were rested despite failing to perform at the T20 World Cup in Australia.

On that note, let's take a look at the three probable opening combinations that India might fancy in their opening T20I clash against New Zealand.


#1 Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill

Ready for the New Zealand challenge ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ“ธ: Shubman Gill#crickettwitter #india #newzealand https://t.co/7BQDHJ3DrK

The only two designated openers in the squad - Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill - could be an ideal pair to go with in the opening fixture.

While Kishan has been in and around the Indian T20I team since 2021, Gill has been rewarded for his consistency in ODIs. The elegant right-hander has done a remarkable job in 50-over cricket, having scored 530 runs at an immaculate average of 75.7 and a strike rate of above 107 in the nine ODIs he has played so far this year.

Although Gill is yet to play in a T20I, his inclusion in the squad ahead of Rahul Tripathi and Ruturaj Gaikwad could be an indication that he may have a role to play in the forthcoming series. Despite having no international experience in the shortest format, Gill had a great IPL 2022 as his team Gujarat Titans won the title.


#2 Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant (L) and Shubman Gill (R) during India's training session [Pic Credit: ICC]
Rishabh Pant (L) and Shubman Gill (R) during India's training session [Pic Credit: ICC]

There has been plenty of clamor surrounding Rishabh Pant's selection ahead of Dinesh Karthik in India's playing XI during their last two games at the T20 World Cup. However, many believe that the left-hander should be better suited as an opener rather than a finisher.

Given his free-flowing style, Pant is touted to make better use of the powerplay and put the opposition bowlers under pressure right from the onset. Moreover, his average of 35 at a strike rate of 165 as an opener in T20s also suggests the same.

Gill, on the other hand, could be an ideal candidate to partner Pant at the top as he can complement his style of play. While Pant could go bonkers right from the first over, Gill can skillfully find gaps at will and construct his innings to the team's advantage.


#3 Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson

Northamptonshire v India - T20 Tour Match
Northamptonshire v India - T20 Tour Match

This seems to be the most unlikely left-field option, but it is something to think about if Gill misses out as an opener. The duo of Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson would not be a bad shout given the talent the two possess.

Kishan, who has failed to muster a single 30-plus score in his last six T20I innings, will look to make the most of his opportunities.

The young wicketkeeper-batter was groomed to be Rohit Sharma's opening partner, however, a lackluster IPL season and a string of poor performances ousted him from consideration. But now, after a three-month absence, he will be eager to establish his credentials on the challenging tour to New Zealand.

While he may not be a designated opener, it will do a world of good for Sanju Samson if he gets an opponent to spend some time in the middle and bat at up the order.

The last time Samson opened for India, the Trivandrum-born batter hit a brilliant 42-ball 77 against Ireland back in June. His T20I numbers this year have been terrific, having scored 176 runs at an outstanding strike rate of 158.5 (India's second-highest strike rate of 2022) in five innings.

If paired together, both Kishan and Samson have the ability to assert themselves against opposition bowlers and provide India with a fiery start in the first six overs.

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Edited by Puranjay
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