India World T20 2016
The onus is on India to make the early running against New Zealand in the World T20 openerIANS

India are on a remarkable run in the T20 format, losing just one international in 2016. They beat Australia 3-0, before overcoming the Pune blemish to see off Sri Lanka. MS Dhoni's men then went unbeaten in the Asia Cup to clinch the title, and here they are now, back on home turf, looking to win a second ICC world title in front of their own fans.

All those wins in 2016 will mean absolutely nothing if they do not take the same form into the ICC World T20 2016, starting with the massive opening game of the main phase of the tournament against New Zealand at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur.

This match is all about that statement-making and we-are-here-for-the-title-showing. India did that in the Asia Cup T20 opener, with a brilliant victory over Bangladesh, scoring 166 runs on a wicket where 130 would have been really competitive.

Against New Zealand, it might all come down to who bats better. The Kiwis have a ridiculously-powerful batting lineup, and that is without the now-retired Brendon McCullum. India will run into a Martin Guptill keen to show the IPL franchises what they missed out on, while they have plenty of strength in depth in that batting as well.

Kane Williamson has always had an old head on young shoulders, so taking over as the captain, albeit from the beloved McCullum, shouldn't be too much of a problem.

New Zealand scored 226 and 169 in their two warmup matches, while India managed 185 and 192, suggesting this is going to be one of those "you score and I will score more" T20 games.

What might alter that plan, though, could be India's bowling, particularly the spinners. The wickets in Nagpur for the qualifiers were slow and low, with the spinners coming into play more often than not. So, if R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – and getting someone like a Pawan Negi or Harbhajan Singh might not be such a bad idea -- can pull the strings with the ball, India will have the advantage.

New Zealand have their spinners too, but not too many will debate about the difference in quality and experience.

The beauty of playing at home is being able to take advantage of the home conditions, and if the wicket Tuesday ends up being along the same lines as the ones seen in the qualifiers, Ashwin and Jadeja will come into play.

How well the likes of Guptill, Williamson, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott and the rest of the Kiwi batting bandwagon cope with that spin test will be crucial in deciding which team end up coming out on top.

India cannot afford to lose this match, just to set the tone for the rest of the World T20; New Zealand come into this WT20 opener as the second favourites, so that pressure of winning the match will be off them, allowing them to play a lot more freely.

If India can handle the home pressure, and in the process topple this seriously-good New Zealand side, Dhoni's men will have taken that all-important first step towards the ultimate goal of winning the World T20 title.

ICC World T20 2016: India vs New Zealand schedule:

Date: Tuesday, March 15.

Time: 7.30 p.m. IST (3 a.m. NZT, 2 p.m. GMT, 9 a.m. ET).

Venue: VCA Stadium in Nagpur.

TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD 3 (the latter two with Hindi commentary). Indian subcontinent: Star Sports network. New Zealand: Sky Sport 1. UK: Sky Sports HD2. USA and Canada: Willow TV. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Sports Cricket HD. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport 2. Australia: Fox Sports 3. Hong Kong and Singapore: Star Cricket. Malaysia: Astro Cricket HD.

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