Following their unceremonious exit from the T20 World Cup 2021, a new era will begin in Indian cricket with Rohit Sharma as T20 captain and Rahul Dravid as head coach. Just days after being knocked out of the ICC event, India will take on New Zealand in the first T20I of the three-match series at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Wednesday. Virat Kohli and a few others like Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja have been rested. Here’s a look at India’s predicted XI for the first T20I against New Zealand.
Openers: KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma
Both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are available for the T20I series. They are the new captain and vice-captain pair of India. Rohit and Rahul had a mixed T20 World Cup. They faltered in the two big matches against Pakistan and Bangladesh. By the time, they found form in the last two games, it was a bit too late. The duo will be keen to start on a high as India enter a new T20 phase.
Middle-order: Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant
With no Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan can come in at the No.3 position. He has made a good start to his international career but got only one chance to make an impact in the T20 World Cup and failed. He will be keen to do well against New Zealand. Suryakumar Yadav had a mixed run in the World Cup. He perished cheaply against Pakistan before missing the Kiwi match due to injury. He scored a fluent 25 not out against Namibia. Wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant hasn’t been rested so he will do the glove work and the big-hitting duties.
All-rounder: Venkatesh Iyer
With Hardik Pandya being dropped due to his inability to bowl, IPL star Venkatesh Iyer comes into the mix. Iyer changed around Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) fortunes with his unhindered stroke play at the top of the order. He could come in at six against New Zealand and try to smash the bowling. It won’t be as easy at the international level but Iyer has got a chance to prove his worth. He will also be expected to roll his arm over and bowl his medium-pacers.
Bowlers: Deepak Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harshal Patel, M Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
India could go in with five proper bowlers, expecting Deepak Chahar, Ravichandran Ashwin and Harshal Patel to contribute with the bat if needed. Chahar would have been disappointed after being kept in the reserves for the T20 World Cup. He would be looking forward to playing in India colours again.
Ashwin did not play the first two games against Pakistan and New Zealand in the T20 World Cup, so we would never know the kind of impact he could have made. Once he returned for the last three matches, India was a different team, but those performances came against low-ranked sides. Also, India were all but out of the tournament by then.
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar not at his best in recent times, there is a possibility that Harshal Patel might get his India debut. The pacer was brilliant for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), claiming 32 wickets and winning the Purple Cap. He has been around the domestic scene for years but it has taken an excellent IPL for him to earn his India cap.
Mohammed Siraj was surprisingly left out of the T20 World Cup squad, although he had done little wrong to not be selected. The fiery pacer could be key to India’s fortunes in Bumrah’s absence. Experienced leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has admitted that he was gutted to have been left out of the T20 World Cup squad. He will have mixed feelings as he returns to the Team India squad.