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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
September 10, 2012
Match factsSeptember 11, 2012
Big PictureA phrase that has found its way into cricket jargon of late is "controlling the controllables". One thing neither team, the fans or the organisers have been able to control is the rain. It has been an unwelcome visitor is all three matches on the tour so far, more so in Visakhapatnam, where thousands made their way to witness the city's first Twenty20 international and Yuvraj Singh's comeback from cancer. Southern India has been hit by showers over the last few weeks, and the venue for the final T20, Chennai, has had its share of rain too. The weather has reduced the Twenty20 series to a one-match shoot-out. Both teams will agree that even a completed T20, without interruptions, won't count as sufficient match practice ahead of the World T20. Much then would depend on the two warm-up games in Sri Lanka before the big event.
One player who will be itching to get out there is Yuvraj. Ideally, he would like to stage his comeback in India and, possibly, put an end to all murmurs regarding his match fitness. Spare a thought for the Twenty20 specialists who have flown in from New Zealand for what is effectively a one-match series. Daniel Vettori, for all his experience, needs match time to ease himself back in from a groin injury. New Zealand would want to play their best side, but that would mean their relatively inexperienced players, like Ronnie Hira and Adam Milne, may not be guaranteed a spot. India have tried out three different opening combinations in their last three T20 matches, with Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa partnering Gautam Gambhir in two of those games. They are expected to go with their regular pair of Gambhir and Virender Sehwag here, and both are struggling for consistency.
Form guide (Completed matches, most recent first)New Zealand LLLLW
Watch out forHe may have slipped slightly as a wicket-taker in Tests, but Daniel Vettori has plenty to offer in T20s as a containing bowler, as his economy rate of 5.36 in 28 T20s indicates. With Jacob Oram, who kept batsmen quiet in the SLPL with an economy rate of 3.82, Vettori will be called on to squeeze the runs.
R Ashwin tormented New Zealand with 18 wickets in two Tests, and those who have faced him in the IPL will be aware of his skills in the shortest format. In 23 matches for Chennai Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Ashwin has 27 wickets, the second-highest wicket-taker for the franchise at the ground over three seasons.
Team newsL Balaji showed up for the pre-match press conference, but was non-committal over the team combination or whether he would play.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ashok Dinda
New Zealand did not drop any hints regarding their playing XI either.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Ross Taylor (capt), 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Rob Nicol, 6 Jacob Oram, 7 Daniel Vettori, 8 James Franklin, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Kyle Mills
Pitch and conditionsThere have been showers in Chennai late in the evenings. India managed to practice, but it reportedly rained after 4pm on the eve of the game. The forecast is for cloudy weather on match day.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We're quite strong in the spin department, as well, in the current T20 setup. If you look at the experience we have got and the destructiveness we have with bat and ball, it [the shorter format of the game] does suit us."
"The long lay-off did not rust my skills in any way. It has been a competitive three years in the IPL and Ranji Trophy, as well as some other first-class matches."
L Balaji says he is ready to make a comeback to international cricket
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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