NZ vs IND, 1st T20I - Five key player battles
The teams will square off in three T20I matches first, with the first match taking place tomorrow in Wellington.

After a disappointing end to a great run at the T20 World Cup, the Men in Blue have shifted their focus back to bilateral series. India are currently touring New Zealand for a multi-format white ball series set to begin on November 18.

The teams will square off in three T20I matches first, with the first match taking place tomorrow in Wellington. India and New Zealand have had a similar results in the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup. Both teams started well and finished as table toppers in their respective groups. But in the semi-finals, they suffered humiliating defeats and crashed out of the tournament.

India announced a fresh and young squad for this tour while senior players have been given rest. Hardik Pandya will lead the side, while VVS Laxman is the head coach. On the other hand, New Zealand announced an identical squad, but experienced pacer Trent Boult and senior batsman Martin Guptill missed out.

Glenn Phillips vs Yuzvendra Chahal

The one battle to watch during the T20I series will be between Glenn Phillips and Yuzvendra Chahal. New Zealand’s Phillips is in hot form and was the top scorer for the Kiwis in the T20 World Cup with 201 runs, including a century against Sri Lanka. On the other hand, Chahal, who is India’s second leading wicket-taker in T20Is, failed to make it in the playing XI despite being a part of the squad. Although, with Ravichandran Ashwin out, Chahal being a part of the playing XI is a certainty. Recently, Phillips acknowledged Chahal’s threat and said the leg-spinner will play a crucial part in the series. Thus, it would be interesting to see who gets the better of each other.

Finn Allen vs Arshdeep Singh

Another battle to wait for will be between power-hitter Fin Allen and the dangerous Arshdeep Singh. Allen started the T20 World Cup brightly with a quickfire innings against Australia but failed to make an impact in the rest of the tournament. Arshdeep was India’s best bowler in the tournament and picked up ten wickets. More importantly, Arshdeep surprised everybody by swinging the ball both ways early in the innings. As a result, Singh picked up a wicket in his first over in almost every match. It would be interesting to see whether Arshdeep troubles Allen with his variations or if he gets hit for runs.

Kane Williamson vs Umran Malik

One player who would have been missed the most by the Indian management at the T20 World Cup was Umran Malik. The speedster was out of the selectors’ scheme of things for the T20 World Cup but is back in the squad. Seamers like Mark Wood, Lockie Ferguson, and Haris Rauf, who constantly bowls above 145 kmph, threatened the batters with some serious pace. Had Umran been with the team, his 150 kmph+ deliveries would have added more power to India’s bowling. Nonetheless, he is back and would be looking to rattle the stumps with his serious pace. It would be interesting to see how an under-pressure Kane Williamson, who loves pace, plays against Umran.

Hardik Pandya vs Mitchell Santner

At present, Hardik Pandya is India’s best all-rounder, while Mitchell Santner has done well for the Kiwis with the ball and the bat. Pandya, who will lead the side in this series, loves to take on the spinners, and facing Santner, who enjoyed great success with the ball at the World Cup, would be interesting. Santner has enjoyed success against Pandya, as he picked up Hardik’s wicket in the all-important semi-final of the 2019 ICC World Cup. The Gujarat Titans captain would look to get the better of the left-arm spinner, and it would be a great contest between the two.

Suryakumar Yadav vs Lockie Ferguson

Suryakumar Yadav, who tops the ICC T20I batting charts rankings, will be India’s most valuable batter on this tour. Lockie Ferguson will have to bear added responsibilities in Trent Boult’s absence. Also, Ferguson is one of the fastest bowlers in the world, and it would be interesting to see whether SKY can pull off his unorthodox shots against that serious pace. From Ferguson’s point of view, he has kept several great batters quiet, but Surya is one of a kind, and placing the perfect field placement for the Indian stalwart would be a tough challenge.

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