On a shortlist of things you would least like to do after losing a World Cup final to a traditional rival would be turning up in a different time zone a mere three days later to play another series. However, New Zealand can't afford to think of that because they will be confronted by an Indian side that is looking for some redemption after an early exit in that very same World Cup - partly contributed to by a loss against New Zealand itself.
This is a new-look Indian side, with Rohit Sharma as captain and Rahul Dravid as coach, along with several first-choice players taking a well-earned break. The depth in Indian cricket is such though that India can still put out a strong team that will start as favourites, especially at home.
While one T20 World Cup is done, in some sense, the preparation for the next one starts with this first game because it is just 11 months away. And both teams missing some key personnel may not be the worst thing because it will allow them to test those who are otherwise on the fringes.
New Zealand might find it a bit tough to pick themselves up mentally so soon after the loss in the T20 World Cup final, but while India will be smarting from their early exit, they also have a lot of players who have spent extended times in biosecure bubbles, which is wearying at the best of times. The grind of international cricket is such though that both sides have no option but to get on with it and trust that things will be fine on the field once the competitive juices of match-play flow.
(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
India WWWLL New Zealand LWWWW
In the spotlight
Rohit Sharma as captain is not unknown quantity by any means, but this will still feel like something approaching fresh territory. He will be leading India as the full-time T20I captain for the first time, and has a completely revamped backroom staff now. There were signs in the T20 World Cup that Rohit was looking to be more aggressive upfront instead of playing his normal method of settling in and then unleashing sixes. Will he continue with that, or revert to his tried-and-tested method during the settling-in period of a new role and new coaches?
From being a middle-order bat converted to an opener, Daryl Mitchell suddenly finds himself as one of the lynchpins of New Zealand's weakened batting in this series. His T20 World Cup heroics showed not only that he could take on tough challenges, but also that he backed himself to do so. The fresh challenge now for him will be to extend his good run to this series.
India will have to decide on who their sixth batter will be from among Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer. While Shreyas was the incumbent before his injury in the first quarter of the year, Gaikwad has been on a form tear since the second leg of the IPL. Venkatesh also had a good second leg, and offers a bowling option. Moreover, he has batted at Nos. 5 and 6 with some regularity for his home state Madhya Pradesh, and it is those positions India need to look at given a surfeit of options at the top. Pure form favours Gaikwad even as the all-round option is Venkatesh, while Shreyas has the experience of batting lower down for India, and doing well against England.
Among bowlers, playing three spinners gives India greater batting depth. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the most experienced seamer, so the team might want to stick with him ahead of Avesh Khan or Harshal Patel.
New Zealand were already without Devon Conway, and can't count on Lockie Ferguson being fully ready yet. On match eve, they have lost Kane Williamson too. That does leave them a bit thin in the batting, and could mean someone like Kyle Jamieson getting a go ahead of Adam Milne.
New Zealand (possible): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Daryl Mitchell, 3 Glenn Phillips, 4 Mark Chapman, 5 Tim Seifert (wk), 6 James Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Kyle Jamieson/Trent Boult, 9 Tim Southee (capt), 10 Adam Milne/Lockie Ferguson, 11 Ish Sodhi
Pitch and conditions
The last time a T20 game at the senior level was played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur was during the IPL in April 2019. The pitches then were batting friendly, although bowlers could extract something from them. The larger ground dimensions gives spinners some cover too, and since 2019, they have had a better average and economy rate than fast bowlers. However, no T20I has been held there yet. It is a night game, so dew could be a factor.
Stats and trivia
Martin Guptill (3147) and Rohit (3038) sit second and third respectively on the overall T20I run-tally. They both have a shot at overtaking Virat Kohli, who leads the run charts with 3227 right now.
Tim Seifert has enjoyed playing against India. His average (46.66) and strike rate (156.42) are not only far above his career figures of 24.51 and 132.64, but also the highest for him against any T20I opponent.
"They are a very good team, they are well led, they are well planned and well prepared, and yes, they have beaten India recently in a few tournaments - those are the facts. Herein lies a really good opportunity for us to keep improving and keep getting better, and hopefully the next time we get an opportunity in a big tournament against them, we put one over.". India's new head coach Rahul Dravid already eyes getting the better of New Zealand
"It's busy and we haven't really had a chance to stop and think after the disappointment in the way things finished in the T20 World Cup final, but we have to shift our focus to this series and then obviously for the Test series. To represent your country is a great honour, so that gets me up and going." New Zealand's stand-in captain Tim Southee is not too fazed by his side's relentless schedule