No team has quashed New Zealand's hopes of a world title in the past two years like India have. The last time the two sides met in the shorter formats, the then lower-ranked India knocked New Zealand out of the 2017 World Cup, before setting them on a first-round exit route in the 2018 World T20. With New Zealand hosting the 2021 50-over World Cup, and the 2020 World T20 in Australia set to begin in about a year from now, ESPNcricinfo takes a look at what the three ODIs and three T20Is between India and hosts New Zealand have in store for the two sides.
Road to the 2021 World Cup
As hosts, New Zealand are guaranteed direct entry into the event. For India, currently placed fifth on the ICC Women's Championship table, to secure a top-four finish by the end of the 2017-21 cycle and avoid the qualifiers route, every win in New Zealand will help. This while their last remaining away series - against West Indies - in this Women's Championship window looms.
At home, India play England next month, but hosting Pakistan at some point in this cycle may eventually prove to be the biggest challenge. India's failure to play the away series against Pakistan in the previous cycle cost them all six available points. Given that cricketing ties between the neighbours continue to be in limbo, every defeat this series will deny them a move up from the bottom half.
Rookies and returnees
A mix of uncapped players and recalls for those who had fallen off the radar has been the standout feature of both squads. Katie Perkins, fielder extraordinaire, returns to the ODI squad after 14 months. Frances Mackay, who last played for New Zealand in 2014, finds a place after 367 runs at an average of 73.40 in the Women's T20 Super Smash.
India pace bowler Shikha Pandey, picked in both squads after being overlooked for the World T20, is fresh off captaining India Red to the 50-over Challengers Trophy title back home, where she claimed five wickets in the final. Her ability to swing the ball into the right-hander may give her a place in the starting XI, ahead of the less-experienced Mansi Joshi and Arundhati Reddy.
Opening batsman Punam Raut, returning to the ODI squad with a string of single-digit scores in the Challengers Trophy, is unlikely to be an automatic choice at the top. Whether ODI captain Mithali Raj backs teenager Jemimah Rodrigues, a regular No. 3 in the T20I side but yet to make her mark in ODIs, in the role or hands Priya Punia an unlikely debut remains to be seen.
Five for six
India's first tour of New Zealand in nearly 13 years includes only two members - Jhulan Goswami and Raj - from the squad that toured in March 2006. But as far as familiarity with conditions goes, the most experienced pair in the touring party may be on a level playing field with the first-timers. The five matches on the previous tour were limited to one venue - the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln. This time, the three T20Is and three ODIs will be played across five cities - Napier, Mount Maunganui, Hamilton, Wellington and Auckland - with the T20Is scheduled to run as double-headers with the men's games.
The controversial call to drop Raj in India's World T20 semi-final loss is a thing of the past, according to Raj herself. But for the team to effectively kill the buzz around it, both Harmanpreet and Raj may want to emulate under the new head coach WV Raman the double-series wins they had achieved in South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Amy Satterthwaite's initiation into New Zealand's full-time captaincy, since taking over from Suzie Bates in September 2017, has met with little reward. She lost the toss in all the seven T20Is she's captained in so far, as New Zealand suffered a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Australia before crashing out of the World T20 in the league stage. Satterthwaite had three wins in three ODIs across eight years as stand-in captain. Avenging the loss they were handed by India in the 2018 World T20 opener may be a good starting point to better her record.
Big bilateral bounty
Save for the inaugural, six-match ODI series between the two sides in 1985 that ended in 3-3, India have won three out of the other four bilateral series played out between them.
In the shortest format, there's ever only been one series between the two sides, when New Zealand visited India in 2015. Sophie Devine and Rachel Priest summoned the big hits to set New Zealand up for a clean sweep. But India's spinners and the now out-of-favour Veda Krishnamurthy, who produced a boundary blitz in Bengaluru, gave India a consolation win.
Warming up with WBBL
Devine has had a rich run of form, with 556 runs, including a 99 not out and 95, for the Adelaide Strikers in the WBBL. Her 14 wickets rounded off a prolific season, and she also chipped in with 31 vital runs and a wicket in the Women's T20 Super Smash final to help Wellington Blaze lift the title.
Devine's New Zealand and Strikers team-mate Suzie Bates, too, secured a place on the WBBL's top 10 run-makers' list, besides picking nine wickets. Fast bowler Lea Tahuhu took 14 wickets for the Melbourne Renegades, while Satterthwaite, although averaging only 25 with the bat, led the Renegades to the semi-final that ended in a last-ball heartbreak.
For India, Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana flew in to New Zealand straight from Australia, following an up-and-down run in the WBBL league stage, where they struck two fifties in their respective tallies of 310 and 318 runs. They averaged 31 and 25 in 13 and 10 innings respectively.
Stats that matter
- Should Mithali Raj play all the games, the third ODI in Hamilton will be her 200th in the format.
- Fingerspinners Leigh Kasperek and Deepti Sharma are three and one wicket shy respectively of completing 50 ODI wickets.
- Bates is six short of surpassing Jenny Gunn's tally (58) of most career catches in T20Is by a non-wicketkeeper, and one wicket away from becoming the third New Zealand player with 50 T20I wickets, after Devine and Kasperek.
- Among active captains who have led in 25 T20Is or more, Harmanpreet has the second-best win-percentage of 69.44, trailing only Meg Lanning's 75.47.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo