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Top-ranked T20I team looks to spoil Nehra's farewell

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Harris: 'I think New Zealand will play Ish Sodhi' (2:28)

Ajit Agarkar and Chris Harris look ahead to the start of the three-match T20I series between India and New Zealand (2:28)

Big Picture

Winning a Test requires sustained periods of skill. ODIs can be won through an exceptional performance, with bat or ball. But in T20s, a play - a run-out, a well-executed yorker or a cameo - can change a game. Teams focus on maximising available resources to produce, or limit, extra runs since the margins are finer.

New Zealand have used that approach right from the format's inception, from when they packed their batting with belligerent allrounders to when they played three specialist spinners in a World T20 opener. Their template has worked to the point that they are now the No. 1-ranked T20 team. It has also always succeeded against India, who are yet to beat them in a T20 after five completed attempts.

India usually don't tackle T20s too differently than ODIs. In the last few years, their best ODI players have also primarily made up their best T20 squads, which means they don't field many specialists. However, strong IPL performances have earned Shreyas Iyer and Mohammed Siraj a place in the squad for this series. But with the giggle element out of T20Is, expect India to come out hitting before experimenting.

Form guide

India LWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWL

In the spotlight

Back in February 1999, Ashish Nehra made his international debut in a Test against Sri Lanka. His 18-year career will culminate at his home ground, the Feroz Shah Kotla, in the first T20. With him retiring from domestic cricket too, this will be Nehra's last professional game.

Martin Guptill is New Zealand's most proficient T20 batsman. He has played 184 T20s, and is most suited to batting in the Powerplay, the best time to bat in India. On a slow surface, his contribution at the top could be especially important. His form has been good too: in his previous 10 T20I innings, Guptill has hit five fifties.

Team news

Nehra will play his final international game at the Feroz Shah Kotla, which means additional rest for either Jasprit Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Shreyas Iyer may have to wait for the series to be won, before being given his international debut.

India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt.), 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Tom Latham's sublime form in the ODI series could see him retain his place in the XI, ahead of Glenn Phillips, the only other wicketkeeper in the squad. For the first time on this tour, New Zealand could play two spinners, considering the usual lack of pace in the Feroz Shah Kotla surface.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Kane Williamson (capt.), 3 Colin Munro, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Ish Sodhi

Pitch and conditions

The average T20I score at the Feroz Shah Kotla while batting first is 146, but in the IPL earlier this year, that average rose to 184. The surface at the ground is usually sluggish and two-paced. Changes in pace and cutters are potent defensive weapons. There is no chance of rain.

Stats and trivia

  • Virat Kohli requires 38 more runs to become the second-highest run-scorer in T20Is. He is currently behind Brendon McCullum and Tillakaratne Dilshan.

  • Ashish Nehra is the third-highest wicket-taker for India in T20Is, with Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin ahead of him.

  • Despite India's winless record against New Zealand, they have a winning percentage of 58.82% in the format, compared to New Zealand's 50.5%.

Quotes

"Everyone looks forward to playing Twenty20. It's a lot of fun and all the players enjoy it. We've been lucky enough in the last couple of years to be successful at it, so looking forward to the series. It should be a good one."
New Zealand batsman Colin Munro