But the team has to put that behind them now. With less than a year to go for the next T20 World Cup, the Indian team has to right the wrongs quickly. A new coach — Rahul Dravid and a new skipper — Rohit Sharma, face the task of rectifying and learning from past mistakes in a short span of time and guide the team forward.
India, as of now (according to announced schedules), have 21 T20Is to play before the next T20 World Cup (in Australia) and the new coach-captain duo have to rethink and execute the right strategies to make an impact in the next edition of the cricketing extravaganza.
The first hurdle for India in this journey is a three match series vs New Zealand. The bogey team of India, New Zealand have caused a lot of hurt for them in recent times. The 2019 50-over World Cup semi-final, 2021 WTC Final and 2021 T20 World Cup group match, the Kiwis defeated India on all the three occasions, decimating the title hopes of the team.
The form of the Indian batsmen, in particular, was a major reason for the team’s debacle in the recent T20 World Cup and the selectors and the new team management is now ready to try out a different approach in the batting department. As a new-look Team India takes on the Blackcaps in the 3-match series starting November 17 at home, TimesofIndia.com draws up an overall analysis of the batting line-up of both the teams.
India Batting Strengths
The new India T20I captain will be one of Team India’s biggest strengths in the upcoming series against New Zealand. Rohit has had tremendous success at home when it comes showcasing his batting prowess. Comfortable against both seam and spin bowling, the opener when on-song, is a nightmare for the opposition. The Hitman, like he always does, will look to make the most of the Powerplay. Once set, Rohit has shown many times in the past, how he can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition. Rohit, so far has scored 1019 runs in 40 T20I matches at home that includes three impressive centuries and four fifties.
The new India vice-captain, KL Rahul, is also likely to play a key role against the Kiwis. The opener showed glimpses of the destruction he can cause at the top of the order in the T20 World Cup and India will hope that Rahul continues with the same form against a quality Kiwi bowling attack. Like his opening partner Rohit, Rahul too has good numbers when batting on home soil. Rahul, so far has 764 runs at an average of over 36 in 24 T20I matches in India.
Surya Kumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer
Both Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer will be looking to strengthen India’s middle order and provide depth in batting. While Surya failed to deliver in the high-pressure T20 World Cup, Iyer was not in the India squad. Both Surya and Iyer will look to start afresh and will be hungry for runs as they have got the temperament to aggressively push the game forward in the crucial middle overs.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant didn’t have a great T20 World Cup outing by his own lofty standards. The destructive batsman, who takes on the opposition bowlers from the word go, will be a big headache for the Kiwis if he finds his rhythm. Fearless approach and the courage to take on the best in the business makes Rishabh a dangerous player and the Kiwis will be wary of his approach to the game. Watch out for his ability to clear the boundary rope on the leg side with ease when on song.
Indian cricketers during a practice session in Jaipur. (PTI Photo)
NZ Batting Strengths
Martin Guptill is one of the most experienced batters in the Kiwi setup currently. Coming into the T20I series against India in the backdrop of a strong performance in the recently concluded T20 World Cup, Guptill will be New Zealand’s biggest strength perhaps in the batting department, especially in the absence of regular captain Kane Williamson. A swashbuckling stroke-maker, who is known to take apart the opposition in the Powerplay overs, Guptill also has got the technique of playing the spinners well. And in the absence of Kane Williamson from the T20I squad, Guptill will be looking to play with more responsibility and give his team strong starts against a quality Indian bowling attack.
All-rounder James Neesham is a hard-hitter towards the back-end. He can also play the waiting game, when the team is in trouble. New Zealand will be banking heavily on the batting abilities of Neesham in the upcoming T20I series against India, especially as a power-hitter. A swashbuckling stroke-maker, who has showcased some serious batting prowess, especially in the death overs, Neesham will be a key figure in the Blackcaps batting set-up in the India T20I series. Pretty comfortable against the quicks, the Kiwis would want to see Neesham in a finisher’s avatar on the batting-friendly surfaces of India.
New Zealand cricketers during a practice session in Jaipur. (PTI Photo)
India Batting Weaknesses
Perhaps two biggest weaknesses of Team India’s batting in the T20 World Cup were lack of intent and the fear of failure. While both are co-related, India’s biggest challenge in the series against New Zealand will be to overcome both. The world-renowned India top-order failed miserably in the crucial T20 World Cup matches, including against the Black Caps in the Super 12 stage. Against the same opposition at home now, putting up a much better show with the bat will be one of India’s biggest challenges.
The approach of the middle-order when the top fails, pacing the scoreboard in the middle overs and going after the bowlers in the death has been a concern for India and the Kiwis will look to continue exploiting that.
Rohit and Rahul both have been found struggling against the seamers’ moving deliveries at the beginning of the innings.
The batting approach while setting up the target has been a concern for the team for a long long time in T20s. Unsure about how to conduct the business while batting first, India suffered because of that in the T20 World Cup and once again against the Kiwis, this will be Rohit Sharma and co’s biggest challenge.
Though New Zealand lost in the T20 World Cup final, they will take the confidence of beating pre-tournament favourites India rather comfortably (by 8 wickets) in the Super 12 stage into the series which begins today.
New Zealand cricketers during a practice session in Jaipur. (PTI Photo)
NZ Batting Weaknesses
The Kiwis biggest weakness, as of now, seems to be the inexperience in their squad.
As India are set to try out fresh faces against New Zealand, keeping next year’s T20 World Cup in mind, the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer and Harshal Patel (debutants) have a great chance to create an impact on the selectors and the team management.
Both Gaikwad and Venkatesh were in red-hot form in the last edition of the IPL and their performances in the league have earned them a place in the series against the Kiwis. Their fearless approach and promise that got them a place in the Team India squad will now be put to the test on the international arena.
From the perspective of the Indian team management, the series against New Zealand will help them identify the potential T20I players going ahead. While a few batters will also look to return to form in familiar conditions, the selectors and the management will aim to identify the future stars of the Indian team.
Similarly, the Kiwis too will look to give their young batters some valuable experience of the subcontinent. Against a quality Indian bowling attack, the young and inexperienced New Zealand batsmen will have the opportunity to make an impact. A few Kiwi batsmen are on their first tour of India and they will surely be looking to make the most of it.