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Cricket news - Struggling New Zealand seek momentum shift

New Zealand seek a reversal of fortunes

Athletes are a driven tribe who toil hours together and challenge themselves to get better at it. Sometimes they fail and taste defeat, but they get up and start again from scratch. After slipping to a rather embarrassing 1-4 loss in the ODI series against India, New Zealand find themselves in such a spot to find ways to plot the downfall of their formidable opponents in the T20I rubber.

Even though the shortest format is an abbreviated version of ODIs, it involves different tactics and strategies. So the hosts will look to start afresh and get back to winning ways when they lock horns against India in the first T20I in Wellington.

One area of concern for New Zealand in ODIs was that their top order failed time and again against India's incisive bowling unit. Colin Munro, one of the batsmen who struggled to make an impact in the 50-over format, will aim to find his groove in the shortest version of the game. The batting all rounder cracked 500 runs at an impressive strike rate of almost 180 in T20Is last year.

Kane Williamson, the mainstay, too, couldn't exactly fire in ODIs, scoring just one fifty. The middle order batsman, not known for his hitting prowess, was also not in good nick in T20Is last year, notching up just over 250 and at a strike rate of 115.66. The home team's problems are further compounded by the fact that Martin Guptill, the explosive opener, was ruled out of the rubber due to a back problem.

On a slightly positive note, Jimmy Neesham, the all rounder, has provided the spark lower down the order and will be expected to make an impact in the T20Is. He cracked an impressive 32-ball 44 in the final ODI in Wellington and also provides a useful seam bowling option for the home side. On the bowling front, Trent Boult has been rested as they look to manage his workload. Scott Kuggeleign, the bowling all-rounder, could get a look-in. Kuggeleign has taken 14 scalps and scored 59 runs in T20s during the current New Zealand domestic season.

On the other hand, the visiting Indian side would be riding high on confidence. Surety has replaced vulnerability with India not losing a single series across formats since they went down 1-4 to England in the Test rubber last year.

With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order, the tourists have a settled opening pair. The aggressive Rishabh Pant, who was left out of the ODI squad, is back in the set-up. With the old hand MS Dhoni also in the setup, it would be interesting to see where Pant would fit in. With all rounders - Hardik and Krunal Pandya, alongside Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the ranks, India also have enough firepower in the bowling department.

When: New Zealand vs India, 1st T20I, Feb 06, 08:00 PM local time, 12:30 AM IST

Where: Westpac Stadium, Wellington

What to expect: At the Westpac stadium, pacers have generally found swing. It can be encapsulated by Tim Southee's success (eight scalps at 13.77 in T20Is) at the stadium. Teams have preferred to chase, evidenced by eight out of nine captains who won the toss in T20Is at the stadium, electing to field.

Team News:

India: With Virat Kohli rested for the series, Rohit Sharma will continue to lead the side. India could play both MS Dhoni and Pant for the first game. Shubman Gill is also an option to look at.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya/ Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Siddarth Kaul/Khaleel Ahmed

New Zealand: With Martin Guptill ruled out of the rubber, Tim Seifert, who has a very good strike rate in T20s, might slot in at the top of the order. However, he hasn't found success at the highest level so far. Tim Southee and Scott Kuggeleign would also would come into the equation.

Probable XI: Tim Seifert, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi/Scott Kuggeleign, Lockie Ferguson

Stats and Trivia

New Zealand are the only team to win more matches than they have lost against India - six wins to two defeats.

Rohit Sharma needs 36 more runs to go past Martin Guptill's tally of 2272 runs to become the leading run-getter in T20 Internationals.

The average first innings total in New Zealand since January 2016 is 183 - the highest among all the nations.

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