Fringe players in focus with the series decided

Match details
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
January 31, Friday; 12:30 IST

The main picture
Despite India being at almost full-strength, despite their current form, and despite New Zealand’s relatively inexperienced bowling attack, we didn’t envisage the ongoing T20I series to read 3-0 with two matches to play. India overwhelmed the home team in the first two T20Is, and in the third, New Zealand’s most experienced bowler failed to execute in the super over.

India’s unassailable lead in the five-match T20I series is a measure of their progress in the format since losing a three-match series 2-1 about 12 months ago. While T20 cricket wasn’t the primary focus this time last year, it certainly is now for either team. Going by the results in the series and what they mean for the series itself, India are on the right track leading up to the T20 World Cup and they have given themselves two matches to blood in the players who haven’t seen any action on the tour so far.

That means Navdeep Saini, Sanju Samson and Kuldeep Yadav could feature in the Indian playing 11 for the fourth T20I, albeit who they could replace isn’t straightforward. For the fast bowlers, in particular, playing T20 cricket isn’t as taxing on the body as bowling 10 overs in a One-Day International, yet expect Jasprit Bumrah, who has played each of India’s completed T20Is this calendar year, to be rested. Chinaman spinner Kuldeep, quite surprisingly, has warmed the bench so far but could come in for Ravindra Jadeja or Yuzvendra Chahal. Samson, who played the third T20I against Sri Lanka in Pune and came in as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan, could feature in the batting line-up, too.  

For New Zealand, unlike India, the objective must also be to stop the sequence of losses, stretching to five across formats now. The Hamilton T20I was another sad reminder of their current inability to close out matches and their experienced players—in this case, Ross Taylor initially, and Tim Southee in the super over—failing to step up under pressure. How they react to their most recent loss via the super over will define the series score line, though they, too, will have changes in personnel for the fourth and fifth T20Is.

All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme isn’t part of the squad for the final two T20Is, with Tom Bruce taking his place. Another all-rounder, Daryl Mitchell, has surprisingly not played a match in this series, and he is likely to come in for Grandhomme, who contributed only eight runs in three innings and took a wicket in the one match he bowled.

Westpac Stadium Wellington pitch report and weather forecast

This is another of New Zealand’s fast-scoring grounds, thanks to the relatively shorter square boundaries. Being a multi-purpose stadium, a drop-in pitch is used here and it’s usually been batsmen-friendly. New Zealand have won each of their last six T20Is at this venue, including an 80-run thumping of India last year. 

The weather forecast says strong winds are possible, though the weather is expected to be clear in the evening. 

India vs New Zealand 4th T20 playing 11

Possible New Zealand playing 11: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Tim Seifert (wk), 5 Ross Taylor, 6 Daryl Mitchell, 7 Hamish Bennett, 8 Mitchell Santner/Tom Bruce, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Scott Kuggeleijn, 11 Ish Sodhi

Possible India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Kuldeep Yadav, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Shardul Thakur

India vs New Zealand 4th T20I telecast channel

The fourth T20 International between India and New Zealand will be telecast on the Star Sports network and streamed live on Hotstar. The match can also be viewed on DD National.