After an impressive showing by India in the three-match ODI series against New Zealand, the focus will be on the shorter and the most entertaining format in the gentleman's game. India will host New Zealand for a three-match T20I series, before the Kiwis head back home.
The first match of the series is set to be played at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday (November 1). It is for the first time that India will be playing a T20I match at this venue.
Both teams are equally strong, and team which plays consistent cricket for 40 overs will have a greater chance of emerging victorious.
India are always a superior side in world cricket, but their performances in the T20I format can be questioned. After the Champions Trophy in June, India lost to West Indies in the only T20I, but defeated Sri Lanka. The last T20I series featuring India vs Australia ended in a draw (1-1). They have not been convincing.
On the contrary, New Zealand are ranked number one in the ICC T20I ranking table.
This match is going to be extra special for Ashish Nehra, who is set to retire after the first T20I in Delhi. His inclusion in the squad means India captain Virat Kohli will play the lanky pacer. Axar Patel might have to sit out. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Ashish Nehra could be the three pacers in the playing XI.
Coming to the batting line-up, India will be without Kedar Jadhav, hence both Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik should feature in the middle order for India. It remains to be seen if Shreyas Iyer is handed his debut in place of one of the aforementioned players.
New Zealand have also recalled their experienced batsman Ross Taylor, who was originally not part of the squad. His presence in the middle order will be crucial for the Black Caps.
One does not see New Zealand making any batting changes from their ODI team. The likes of Tom Latham and Taylor have been in good touch and the middle order duo will be keen to score big. But, they will need their openers, especially Martin Guptill to fire, as his flying start can change the complexion of the game.
The playing surface in Delhi has been tricky at times, with the pitch being slow as well. The spinners might get some purchase, and the batsmen may not be able to trust the bounce too much, which will make it a tough encounter.
Even history suggests that it is not a high-scoring venue. The average first innings score at the venue stands at 146 runs.
Probable playing XIs
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tom Latham (wk), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult.
Match starts 7 PM IST