Big picture

New Zealand are in Kane Williamson territory in Tauranga, but he could just rest his left shoulder with the series already lost. Two back-to-back losses in the fashion they did have raised questions of their finishing abilities, 'chokers' to some if social media is a barometer. They're currently in that kind of space where they'll gladly take a win, however it comes.

Colin Munro's return to form makes it one headache less and he walks into a venue where he has two hundreds and a half-century in five innings at an average of 61.40 and strike rate of 193. But New Zealand's recent dip in form, including the Australia whitewash, remains a larger worry as they constantly fight to remain in public memory.

Spirit of Cricket - like their juniors were lauded for at the Under-19 World Cup - is fine, it's also time to win. This message may not be explicitly written or told to them, but the players will know deep down that in a World Cup year, every opportunity counts and they should make the headlines for wins too. Not just being the nearly men who win hearts.

Two weeks ago, India were playing in Bengaluru. Then having traversed several time zones to play in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington in the space of five days, India are in Mount Maunganui. Camping here for three days should give them as much joy as they've derived from winning back-to-back Super Over thrillers.

India's uninhibited approach to a T20 innings is a refreshing change. Batsmen aren't worried about preserving their wickets, the team is open to being flexible, Virat Kohli has no problems batting out of position and KL Rahul keeping wickets lends better balance. Manish Pandey, who struggled to break into the first XI earlier, is a beneficiary of this change.

Injuries to their frontline fast bowlers in the format - Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar - have pushed them to test their reserves, and the replacements have all delivered at some stage. Shardul Thakur, for example, has proven to not just be a swing option but also a death-bowling option. His hitting doesn't quite make the lower order seem brittle anymore.

Navdeep Saini gives them bristling pace, Jasprit Bumrah the consistency. Shivam Dube is also getting into the rhythm of bowling regularly, thereby accruing valuable experience that should help him should he be on the flight to Australia for the T20 World Cup. The result of the bowling rejig has meant one of their wristspinners, mostly Kuldeep Yadav, has had to sit out. The team management may as well give him a go come Sunday.

Form guide

New Zealand LLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
India WWWWW

In the spotlight

Sanju Samson is a fine white-ball striker but desperately needs a score to back his ability. With Shikhar Dhawan likely to be slotted back into the squad as soon as he's fit, Sunday could be Samson's final opportunity at making amends.

Tim Seifert's half-century that complemented Munro's in Wellington went unnoticed because of the frenzied finish. He strikes at 137 in 24 T20Is, enough indication of his hitting abilities. New Zealand will want him to finish off games with the bat as the next part of his learning. With the gloves, he's proven to be as tidy as they come.

Team news

Whatever is written here can only be speculative, because Saturday was a travel day, with no training session or press conferences to provide any markers. Rishabh Pant is yet to get a game, so there is a case for the team management to bring him in and rest Rahul. If Kohli chooses to rest, it could mean Rohit comes back to lead. And if they want to bring in Kuldeep Yadav, it could be at Yuzvendra Chahal's expense.

India (likely): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Sanju Samson, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Martin Guptill didn't come out to bat in Friday's Super Over because of a collision with Scott Kuggleijn on the field. Williamson's status isn't yet clear. However, New Zealand may want to rest him with an eye on the ODI series to follow.

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

Pitch and conditions

The town is built around a hill and the wind patterns aid swing. It could be hard for bowlers running in against the breeze, but the surface is one with true bounce and good carry. It should be full of runs.

Stats and trivia

  • The average first innings score in the five games that have produced a result at Bay Oval is 199
  • New Zealand's dot-ball percentage at the death has been 34. India have scored significantly faster, and have a dot-ball percentage of just 25 in the same period
  • The team batting first has won each of the five games here

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo