Battered India eye parity with series on the line

Match details

Eden Park, Auckland
February 8, Friday; 11:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

New Zealand struggled in the ODI series because they couldn’t get two or three good individual performances to put pressure on India. When Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme combined menacingly in Hamilton (in the fourth ODI) and took eight wickets between them, they set up a thumping eight-wicket win for the Blackcaps. In the fifth ODI, Boult and Matt Henry had combined to reduce India to 18 for four but weren’t supported by the one and two-change bowlers to potentially bowl India out cheaply again. As it turned out, Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar weathered the early storm and laid the foundation for a competitive score which proved more than enough to give India a 4-1 series win.

In Twenty20 cricket, one, or at most two, good individual performance can often be enough to help the team win. Tim Seifert’s 84 was the sort of individual performance that set the tone for the New Zealand win on Wednesday. Roles were reversed with India failing to find even one good individual performance with the bat or with the ball. 

India must collectively lift their game to turn around the series. The team management is likely to alter the team combination, potentially bringing in a specialist bowler for an all-rounder or a wicketkeeper. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have fallen cheaply in the last three matches (two ODIs and one T20I) and must come up with a good score to set the tone for India at the top of the innings. 

New Zealand found the winning formula straight away and were impressive in all three departments (batting, bowling and fielding) to hand India their biggest defeat in T20I cricket. Living up to that level of performance might be difficult, but the Blackcaps have gained a psychological edge over India, who they have dominated for the most part in this format, and will go to Auckland confident of wrapping up the series.

Eden Park pitch report and weather forecast

This is the venue where Australia and New Zealand produced a run-fest in February last year. New Zealand, batting first, posted 243, which Australia chased down with seven balls to spare. Eden Park can be a tough venue to contain the batsmen on because of its shape. If the pitch is anywhere as good as it was that day, you can expect another high-scoring match.  

The forecast says that the evening could have a couple of showers.

India vs New Zealand 2nd T20 playing XI

Possible New Zealand playing 11: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Tim Seifert (wk), 3 Colin Munro, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Colin de Grandhomme, 6 Scott Kuggeleijn, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Daryl Mitchell, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Ish Sodhi

Possible India playing 11: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Vijay Shankar, 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Khaleel Ahmed

Match prediction

With conditions in favour of the batsmen, and both teams boasting great depth in their batting, the team who bowl better are likely to emerge victorious.

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