Following their heartbreaking exit from the semi-finals of the recently concluded Men's T20 World Cup, Team India and New Zealand are set to lock horns in a white-ball series that will feature three T20Is and as many ODIs.
It is expected to be a highly competitive series as both India and New Zealand boast some of the world's most talented players on their rosters. 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 look to try out a few individuals in the absence of senior players. The hosts, on the other hand, will line up as they did in the World Cup, barring one or two changes in their bowling department.
So far, Team India have played three T20Is at the Sky Stadium, all against New Zealand. While the Men in Blue won one of those three encounters, they lost the other two.
Situated in Wellington, the pitch at the Sky Stadium could give fans a run-fest as the batters tend to play their shots with ease and the quick outfield aids the scoring rate. However, the rain may tip the scales in favor of bowlers. There is a high chance of showers in Wellington on Friday evening, leading to the possibility of a delayed start.
India won their last T20I in Wellington against New Zealand in 2019
In 2020, India toured New Zealand for a five-match T20I series and managed to pull off a remarkable clean-sweep 5-0 victory. After winning the first two T20Is rather convincingly, India won the series in a thrilling fashion in the third T20I, which went to a Super Over in Hamilton.
In Wellington, the fourth T20I of the series also went to a second successive Super Over between the two teams, as if one tied game wasn't enough. Another hard-fought battle saw the Men in Blue prevail once more.
After putting India in to bat first, New Zealand dominated the first half of the first innings. They dumped India into big trouble as the Virat Kohli-led side found themselves at 88/6 in 11.3 overs.
However, a sensible knock from Manish Pandey ensured India batted out their quota of 20 overs. Pandey’s unbeaten 36-ball 50 and a cameo from Shardul Thakur (20 off 15) lifted India to 165/8. Ish Sodhi proved to be the pick of the bowlers for the Kiwis as he picked a brilliant 3/26.
New Zealand, who had two set batters in Tim Siefert and Ross Taylor, were cruising towards a plain sailing win and needed only 11 runs off the last 12 balls with seven wickets in hand. However, a wily 19th over bowled by Navdeep Saini in which he leaked only four runs, brought the equation down to seven off the last over for the hosts.
In came Shardul Thakur to bowl the last over, where he did a wonderful job in holding New Zealand on level terms. Thakur dismissed Ross Taylor (24) and Daryl Mitchell (4) while Tim Seifert (57) and Mitchell Santner (0) were run-out as the hosts crumbled in inexplicable fashion.
Having taken the game into the Super Over, India restricted New Zealand to 13 as Bumrah did a solid job with the ball.
As Rohit Sharma was rested for the game, KL Rahul and Kohli went out for the chase. The former clobbered Tim Southee for a six and a four off the first couple of deliveries before getting holed out on the third ball. However, a composed Kohli then smashed the penultimate delivery for a four to seal another famous win for India.
Shardul Thakur, who contributed with both bat and ball for India, was adjudged the Player of the Match for his all-round display.