India favored to defeat New Zealand in five-match T20I series
The fifth rank for India in T20Is and sixth for New Zealand does not do justice to the nations' talent.
Overall, India has won 65% of its T20I matches and has a positive match record against each nation except New Zealand. The Men in Blue winning three and losing eight against the Blackcaps is unfathomable.
Similarly, New Zealand is a team of all rounders like Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner and they have won more matches than they have lost. Thus, they also are better than what their T20I ranking suggests.
Reason for low rank
India has been experimenting too much and they lost a match against West Indies and a depleted South Africa.
Similarly the Blackaps losing a home series to England has not helped their cause. Martin Guptill's repeated failures and Colin Munro's erratic performances have further aggravated New Zealand's issues.
New Zealand has a depleted side owing to the absence of Trent Boult, Jimmy Neesham and Lockie Ferguson. Kane Williamson is not in the right nick so the Blackaps are no longer a potent force. Newcomers will find it tough but Tim Seifert is one to watch out for.
India, on the other hand, has a settled side. KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma form a formidable pair. Virat Kohli at three, Sanju Samson/Shreyas Iyer at four and Rishabh Pant/Manish Pandey at six provide a lot of depth.
India bowling is rejuvenated with Jasprit Bumrah gaining rhythm after returning from an injury layoff. Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur have performed exceedingly well, so India will be hoping to win the series on the shoulders of pace bowlers.
New Zealand has changed the venues from England series as the wickets were flat. Now Eden Park is staging two matches along with the Bay Oval and Wellington, which are known to be fast pitches. So, the matches will not be insipid or boring.
India will win the series despite Shikhar Dhawan being injured.
I am of the view that India will take the series, 4- 1, by virtue of their superior bowling and batting. Even a whitewash will not astound any cricket pandit.
Let's hope for some major fire works in this series.
Cover image credits: Hindustan Times