New Delhi. The Indian cricket team will start afresh in the first T20 match against New Zealand under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma and under the supervision of head coach Rahul Dravid. Venkatesh Iyer, who performed brilliantly in the Indian Premier League (IPL), can debut. He is being seen as an alternative to Hardik Pandya. It will be known whether he can be groomed as a fast bowling all-rounder in the three-match T20I series against New Zealand. India can keep more ‘power hitters’ in the batting department and Venkatesh, who plays for KKR, has openly displayed his ability to play long and big shots.
Other players who have performed well in the IPL include Ruturaj Gaikwad, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan and Yuzvendra Chahal. Jasprit Bumrah has been rested for the series and India will look to find another fast bowler who can consistently bowl at 140 kmph or more. It was also seen in the UAE that extra-fast deliveries benefit and in such a situation all eyes will be on Avesh and Mohammad Siraj. Bhuvneshwar Kumar could not perform at his best in UAE. He has been given another chance to return to his old complexion.
Rohit and vice-captain KL Rahul can open the innings but with more options in the form of Ishan Kishan and Gaikwad, India can also do some experiments. Even Venkatesh has scored all his runs for KKR as an opener but he is ready to bat in the middle order. Suryakumar Yadav could not find his rhythm during the World Cup but he is a player whom India would like to build at number four, especially considering the Australian conditions. With Ravindra Jadeja being rested, Axar Patel could fill the spin bowling all-rounder’s slot while R Ashwin is likely to continue in the playing XI.
India (Probable Playing XI): Rohit Sharma (capt), KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal.
New Zealand (Probable Playing XI): Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert, Mark Chapman, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Southee (c), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne.