A strong comeback will be expected from India after the hammering from New Zealand in the series-opener when the two teams square-up in the second T20 International at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.
It was the biggest loss in T20 Internationals (in terms of runs) for India on Wednesday night, and the team doesn’t have a lot of time to introspect with less than 48 hours separating the two games.
It was the kind of day when nothing went right for India who let New Zealand amass 219 before surrendering meekly in the steep chase. The lack of fight in the run chase was a big disappointment, as mentioned by captain Rohit Sharma in Wellington. Despite having eight batsmen in the eleven, India lost by 80 runs.
“As a team, we have been good at chasing down targets which is why we play with eight batsmen. We believe that whatever the target is in front of us we can chase it down, but we just couldn’t do it tonight,” said a disappointed Rohit after the game.
Opener Tim Seifert took the Indian bowlers to cleaners with a 43-ball 84 and visitors must have a plan to contain him on Friday. Not even the seasoned Bhuvneshwar Kumar was spared as he, alongside Hardik Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed, leaked over or around 12 runs an over.
The team could replace Ahmed with either Siddharth Kaul or Mohammad Siraj, who warmed the bench on Wednesday.
The spinners, Krunal Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal, did alright but the team management will also consider including wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Captain Sharma would like to lead from the front after scoring just a solitary on Wednesday and a significant contribution will also be expected from Rishabh Pant, who is in the running for a World Cup berth. He could not do much in Wellington, getting four off 9 balls before spinner Mitchell Santner bowled him with a fast yorker.
All-rounder Vijay Shankar was promoted to number three and did alright with a 18-ball 27. It remains to be seen if he gets another shot at the same position or the team brings in Shubman Gill, who would be desperate to perform after the two low scores in the fourth and fifth one-day internationals.
While it is a must-win game for India, another victory will seal the series for the hosts who were outplayed 1-4 in the preceding ODIs. Captain Kane Williamson could not be more happy with the showing in the first T20 but wants his team to fully focus on the job at hand.
“It was a complete performance that doesn’t happen everyday and hope we can keep the momentum through the series having set the tone,” he said.
The dangerous opening duo of Colin Munro and Seifert put the Indian pacers under tremendous pressure early on in the innings and dismissing them cheaply will be crucial for the visitors’ chances.
Coming back into the side after playing just one ODI against India, veteran Tim Southee proved his immense value with tidy figures of 17 runs in four over including three wickets.
The spinners, Ish Sodhi and Santner, too were on top of the Indian batsmen, sharing two wickets apiece.
India: Rohit Sharma(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Siraj.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson(c), Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, James Neesham.
Match starts at 11.30 AM IST.