India have taken an important 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series against New Zealand after clinching the Delhi encounter. Hence, the Black Caps will be desperate to beat India to level the series as they face the "Men in Blue" in the second T20I at Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium in Rajkot on Saturday (November 4).
Ashish Nehra, who was played his last international match in the first T20I, bagged all the headlines. As a result, India played with three regular pacers and two spinners along with Hardik Pandya as the all-rounder, who is more than a handy medium pacer.
Nehra's inclusion had made the bowling department look a bit heavy, but the line-up could be much more balanced in the second T20I. The likes of Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik and KL Rahul might get a chance to play, but Shreyas Iyer, who was picked in the first match, could still be retained for the Rajkot match.
In the bowling department, it remains to be seen if Kuldeep Yadav will get a place in the playing XI. Axar Patel played in the first match. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, however, will shoulder the bowling responsibility in the pace department.
As for New Zealand, Ross Taylor has a good chance of making it to the playing XI for the second T20I instead of Tom Bruce.
They also have a tough decision to make – can they afford to drop out-of-form Martin Guptill and ask Tom Latham to open?
If Guptill plays, there is a serious need for the opener to score on Saturday. The player has the ability to win matches on his own, but the Kiwi has not been able to get things right in India so far. In the bowling department, they might stick with two pacers and two spinners formula despite having been outclassed by the India batsmen in the first T20I where the home team scored 202/3.
The pitch at SCA Stadium in Rajkot is expected to be full of runs, and a nightmare for bowlers. Only one T20I has been played at this venue, where both teams scored 200 plus runs, explaining the kind of surface that has been laid. That time, India defeated Australia chasing down 202 in 2013.
Stroke makers like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Colin Munro and Latham could enjoy their stay at the crease on Saturday.
Probable Playing XIs
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (wk), Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tom Latham (wk), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult.
Match starts 7 PM IST