Starts at 19:00 IST, Jan 27 (13:30 GMT)
“Broadcaster ko bhi sahi cheez dikhana chahiye” (The broadcaster should show things with context).
That sudden burst of Hindi in the middle of a largely English press conference summed up Rohit Sharma’s gripe. Speaking in Indore after his 30th ODI century, Rohit was frustrated at the marketed narrative that he had just hit his ‘first ODI hundred in three years’, when the fact was that he had only played 17 ODIs since his last century. You could blame the pandemic, his unfortunate injuries or simply more 20-over tourneys in view of back-to-back T20 WCs, but Rohit wasn’t really without an ODI hundred for three years; the world watching him was.
Which is why this three-match T20I series feels oddly placed nine months before an ODI World Cup. More urgently, there’s a marquee four-Test rubber against Australia knocking on the doors, which essentially will decide the finalists of the World Test Championship. But here we are, on the cusp of a series that feels like a finger food before the big meal but one which comes with the promise of opportunities – opportunities for both teams to look at players who are ready to take over, and for players to look at themselves after what could have been a jaded wait in the wings.
So, for every Virat Kohli who’s been rested for the series, there’s an eager Prithvi Shaw ready to come in and prove his mettle. Likewise, for every Mohammed Shami, there’s a Shivam Mavi. And for every Kane Williamson and Tim Southee, there’s a Finn Allen and Ben Lister simmering quietly on the sidelines. That makes the three upcoming T20Is also a great opportunity for new captains Hardik Pandya and Mitchell Santner, who are seeking to build a squad and culture for the World Cup in 2024.
That said, there’s no doubt that these T20 games will, at some point or the other, be viewed from an ODI frame of reference. (To what extent should Hardik Pandya bowl and dive so as not to become unavailable for the World Cup in nine months?) And as is obvious, the series will indeed be played in the shadow of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, with recurrent compulsive discussions on Australia’s chances, or the lack of it, not completely off the table. But distil that out, sharpen your focus and there’s a wonderful opportunity to witness two new-age teams go about their business.
When: January 27, 2023 from 7PM IST
Where: India v New Zealand, 1st T20I, JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi
What to expect: A whole lot of MS Dhoni t-shirts in the stands. Only three T20 Internationals have been hosted at this ground, with the last one being a rematch between India and NZ here in 2021. Tim Southee and Harshal Patel’s cutters headlined the slow pitch on that occasion but India have played on much better pitches this season and something similar could be expected in Ranchi. Watch out for the big boundaries at this venue.
India: Ruturaj Gaikwad stands ruled out of the series with wrist pain/injury but India haven’t asked for a replacement. They are likely to stick with the opening pair of Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill, which served them well recently against Sri Lanka. There’s also Prithvi Shaw in the squad this time, having forced his way back with the sheer weight of runs at the domestic level, and how India try and bring him into the scheme of things will be something to keep an eye on. There’s no Harshal Patel this time around, and the returning Kuldeep Yadav could challenge Yuzvendra Chahal’s spot.
Possible XI: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (c), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Shivam Mavi, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav
New Zealand: After impressing in the ODI series, Michael Bracewell will be a shoo-in for the T20Is. Ben Lister could be making his debut.
Possible XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner (c), Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Ben Lister/Jacob Duffy
What they said:
“I’m so accustomed to bowling with the old ball, I don’t feel like I need to practise a lot. That is why I always used to pick up the new ball (in the nets) and make sure whenever the opportunity comes and my team requires me to do that job” – Hardik Pandya on bowling with the new ball
India Squad: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan(w), Rahul Tripathi, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya(c), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Shivam Mavi, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jitesh Sharma, Mukesh Kumar, Prithvi Shaw
New Zealand Squad: Finn Allen, Devon Conway(w), Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner(c), Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Jacob Duffy, Michael Rippon, Dane Cleaver, Henry Shipley, Ben Lister