As India take on New Zealand in the 4th T20I in Wellington on Friday, Virat Kohli’s team would love to win their record-equalling 7th match in succession while Kane Williamson will also be looking to become the highest run-getter as captain in the shortest format.
16 September 2007 to 1 November 2017. It took India more than 10 years to achieve their 1st T20I victory vs New Zealand. In the past 6 days, India have now won 3 on a trot against the Kiwis thereby giving their win-loss ratio vs New Zealand some sort of respectability. Currently, at 0.625, India hold the worst win-loss ratio against Kane Williamson’s team. But Virat Kohli and Co. have already increased the figure by 150% in the last week and would be looking to bring it to near parity in the remaining 2 matches of the series which they already have in the bag.
Having taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series in Hamilton on Wednesday, India will look to continue the winning momentum vs New Zealand as the teams shift bases to the country capital, Wellington. With the memory of Rohit Sharma’s back-to-back sixes to seal the Super Over chase in Hamilton behind them, India now also have the chance to test their bench strength as the T20 World Cup draws closer by each day.
Captain Virat Kohli himself admitted to the possibility of ringing in a few changes for the last 2 games and one of the biggest dilemmas would be whether to bring in the out-of-form Rishabh Pant into the XI. While KL Rahul has impressed in his dual role as opener-wicketkeeper, Pant must be hoping for a chance to win over his doubters – both inside and out of the team.
India could also think of resting last game’s hero Mohammed Shami, who has a heavy workload behind him, with young pace sensation Navdeep Saini most likely to replace him. In the spin department, the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Washington Sundar too stand a chance to replace either or both of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja.
For New Zealand, the last T20I in Hamilton was their best performance in the series so far where they still ended up on the losing side. First, they required 2 runs off 4 balls to seal victory but botched up the chase against some excellent bowling from Shami. Then after hitting Jasprit Bumrah for 17 runs in the Super Over and restricting India to just 8 runs of the 1st four balls, New Zealand still found a way to lose the game.
Kiwi captain Kane Williamson would be hoping that his team is able to finish the task next time they have India under the pump. As far as experiments with the playing XI are concerned, Williamson wouldn’t want to tinker too much as they would try to put on their best available side in order to avoid a 4th successive defeat. The only change will be a forced one as Colin de Grandhomme will be replaced by all-rounder Daryl Mitchell.
Indian opener Rohit Sharma is in such a purple patch at the moment that every time he scores big, he ends up breaking or claiming a record. In Wellington, he will only need to turn up with the bat to become only the 2nd cricketer ever to play 100 T20I innings. Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik (105) is the only other cricketer to have batted more times in T20Is than Rohit.
Williamson, after his splendid 95 in Hamilton, will be eyeing a major world record in Wellington – most runs as captain in T20Is. The Kiwi skipper is currently just 30 runs behind the leader Faf du Plessis (1273 runs) in this list and judging by the form he’s in at the moment, one should bet on Williamson to score the 31 runs he requires to top this list.
India have now won 6 consecutive T20Is dating back to the 3rd T20I vs West Indies in December last year. One more win in Wellington would help them tie their own best streak, something that they have achieved thrice previously (2012-14, 2016, 2018). If they manage to sweep the series 5-0, it will be a record for the Indian team. Afghanistan with 12 wins on the trot (Feb 2018 to Sep 2019) lead the world in this respect.
Though India have the winning momentum behind them, they will be wary of the home team’s record at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. New Zealand have won their last 6 T20Is at this ground since 2014 and it is also their most successful shortest-format venue in the whole world.
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