New Zealand’s short limited-overs tour of India reaches its T20 stage – with the first out of three T20 matches set to take place at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi tonight at 7 PM.
On Sunday night, India won the deciding ODI by a slim margin of 5 runs in a thriller at Nagpur. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had hit centuries and set up a daunting target of 337 – though they might have felt 15 runs short after that 200-run partnership. But the Kiwi batsmen again put on a good show, needing just 34 runs from the final 4 overs with 6 wickets in hand. It was then that the previously expensive Bhuvneshwar Kumar and star death bowler Jaspirit Bumrah (3/47) stepped up to bowl a brilliant last few overs to deny the Kiwis their first-ever bilateral ODI series win in India. It was a very competitive series and kept alive India’s streak of 7 bilateral ODI series victories in a row. No other Indian captain has accomplished this feat, though India remained second in the ODI rankings behind South Africa despite the 2-1 series win.
Here are some interesting facts and records about the India v/s New Zealand T20 leg:
- New Zealand is the No. 1 ranked side in the world in T20 cricket. India is currently fifth. A series victory for the Kiwis will keep them on top, while India need to win 3-0 to jump up to second.
- India has NEVER beaten New Zealand in a T20 international match. New Zealand has won all the five matches played between the two teams.
- New Zealand has won 5 out of their 6 T20 matches in India. The only one they’ve lost has been in Delhi – the semifinal of the ICC World T20 in 2016 against England.
- India (59) has a higher win percentage than New Zealand (50) in T20 cricket.
- Kohli averages 84 at the Kotla in 7 innings. He is third in the all-time T20 run-getters list behind Brendon McCullum and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
- Ashish Nehra will play his last ever international game in Indian colors at Delhi. Nehra is 38 years old, and made his international debut as a test bowler for India way back in 1999 – but he played only 17 test matches till 2004 before his body gave way. He made his ODI debut in 2001 and played his last of 120 ODI matches in the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup against Pakistan. He made his T20 debut in 2009 for India; this will be his 27th and final T20 game. He remains the only current player in the squad to have made his international debut in the 1990s and the only to have played in the 2003 World Cup – where he partnered with fellow left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan to help India reach the final. His best performance remains the 6/23 against England in that tournament.
- An entire box has been reserved for Nehra’s family, ex-teammates, and friends at the Kotla. Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman and others will be present to send off their beloved “Nehra ji” – the man who defeated his failing body to become one of the oldest current players in the shortest format of cricket.
- Rohit Sharma has scored just one fifty in his last 14 T20 innings.
Probable India XI:
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer (debut), Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra
Two spots in doubt:
It’ll be a tossup between experienced Dinesh Karthik and debutant Shreyas Iyer for the No. 4 spot. Either one of Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Jasprit Bumrah will have to be rested to accommodate Nehra for his final game.
Expect India to break their losing streak against the Kiwis in T20 cricket.