KOHLI’S BOYS TO GAIN REVENGE FOR WORLD CUP EXIT
India are in New Zealand with a five-match T20I series beginning on Friday to be followed by three ODIs and then two Test matches. James Buttler find the best bets for the T20I series as the two sides meet for the first time since New Zealand surprised India in the semi-final if the 50-over World Cup in England last summer.
The New Zealanders were soundly beaten 3-0 in a Test series in Australia they entered in confident mood. Many pundits felt it was their best chance of beating their arch-rivals in their own back yard, but they came home convincing losers. And with an injury ravaged side, Virat Kohli’s India arrive with plenty of wins behind them and scenting yet more blood.
With the T20 World Cup being played in Australia at the end of the year, this series provides both sides with an excellent opportunity to further fine tune their squads and tactics. Both sides have over 20 T20I matches to play this year before the World Cup begins.
INDIA SQUAD NEWS
Kohli captains an Indian squad that looks very similar to the one that took on West Indies at home and won 2-1. The Indians were hoping that all-rounder Hardik Pandya would be fit for this trip, but they will have to wait until the ODI leg before he plays again. Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are also missing through injury.
The squad is strong and travels with heaps of confidence. Our prediction of a 2-1 series win over West Indies came true last week as India bounced back from an opening loss to beat their Caribbean rivals. They arrive in confident mood after also taking a 2-1 ODI win against Australia.
Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (VC), Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (WK), Kuldeep yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
NEW ZEALAND SQUAD NEWS
Some countries have considerable strength in depth, but New Zealand not so much. The population if India is 1,33 billion, whereas there are only 4.8 million people in New Zealand. Add the fact that cricket dominates India as the national sport and rugby dominates New Zealand culture, it is amazing that the Kiwis do what they do in international cricket.
It does make injuries tougher to cope with and the Kiwis lack of strength in depth may be tested over the next few weeks. The Kane Williamson captained side are missing a raft of players.
Lockie Ferguson (calf), Trent Boult (broken hand), Tom Latham (broken finger), Matt Henry (broken thumb), Doug Bracewell (knee), Will Young (shoulder), Adam Milne (ankle) and Seth Rance (Achilles) are all missing.
That gives chances to Tom Bruce and Hamish Bennett, recalled for the first time since 2017, in a squad that still contains plenty of experience and firepower. Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson become crucial with the bat and Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are going to have to bowl well.
Squad: Kane Williamson (C), Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Bruce, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (WK), Hamish Bennett, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner.
KOHLI’S SIDE FORGETTING HOW TO LOSE
The habit of winning is an excellent one to adopt and India are putting in winning performances series after series. The one disappointment of 2019 was their exit in the World Cup semi-final. The Indians were rocked by the early movement the seamers extracted and the New Zealanders went through to lose the most dramatic of finals against England.
Virat Kohli has a long memory and that exit will have left a scar. When asked about his desire to gain revenge, Kohli said: “Honestly, even if you think of revenge, these guys are so nice you can’t get into that. We get along really well with all these guys.” Even so, don’t expect him to ease off against his depleted hosts.
In a short series, particularly in the T20 format, a shock result is possible, but over five matches the better side should shine through. For two sides that scream one-day quality, their ICC World Rankings are a disappointing fifth for India and sixth for New Zealand. Even so, there is little between the two sides in this format.
A T20 match can be won by one man’s brilliance and New Zealand have enough world class performers in their side to be respected. That said, a look down the names in the Indian squad and there are match winners throughout.
Give New Zealand one win along the way, but India 4-1 as a series result won’t be far away.
MUNRO CAN MAUL ANY ATTACK
A general rule of thumb when betting on T20s is to pick a batsman in the top three as they potentially have more balls to face and more opportunity. In a five-game series where a freak performance is less likely to have a deciding impact, that rule becomes even more relevant.
When looking at New Zealand’s top order there is every chance that Martin Guptill and Colin Munro will open, wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Seifert will bat three and Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will make up the middle-order,
Williamson is his countries best batsman, but at four is too low to get too excited about. Seifert is a busy player but not top drawer. So that leaves the openers to choose between. Both men are serious hitters when in the mood, but Munro edges this. Currently ranked fourth in the world in this format, he is destructive and, as the outsider of the two, screams betting value.
LOKESH OFTEN THE FORGOTTEN MAESTRO
When you’ve got Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the top three of the batting order it is often easy to get suckered in to playing the big names rather than the prices. By doing that you would miss the third favourite in the market, the current T20I world ranked number six batsman, Lokesh Rahul. In stellar and consistent form of late in white ball cricket, the price play here is the right play. Bear in mind that Rahul looks set to be given the keeping gloves for this series, but that shouldn’t affect his ability to make runs.
SANTNER HAS CHANCE TO SPIN IT AROUND
Mitch Santner endured a torrid time in the Tests in Australia as he took just one wicket. He’s not the only player to return from that trip a bit bruised and will view the T20I series as a chance to bounce back strongly. The Indians pride themselves on their ability to play spin, but sometimes a strength becomes a weakness as over confidence sets in. Santner is a wily opponent in this format at took his career best T20I return against India in 2016, with four for 11.
Ish Sodhi’s leg-spin could also be a big weapon. Virat Kohli has problems against Adam Zampa recently, so expect Sodhi to come into the attack as soon as the Indian captain gets to the crease.
SHAMI KEEPS ON TAKING WICKETS
When these two sides last met on Kiwi soil it was the home side that won the T20I series 2-1, despite losing the ODI series 4-1. In the shorter format the Indian spinners were a major threat and we can expect them to be so again. Consequently, it is tempting to suggest that the Indian spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kedav Yadav would be the best picks to take the most wickets for India.
Jasprit Bumrah is arguably the most consistent and threatening pace bowler in white ball cricket. Choose any of the above and no one can call you unwise. But Mohammad Shami, every series, picks up tons of wickets and there’s every chance he can take this market from the position of fourth favourite. Backing Shami simply makes betting sense.
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1st T20I, Fri Jan 24, Auckland
2nd T20I, Sun Jan 26, Auckland
3rd T20I, Wed Jan 29, Hamilton
4th T20I, Fri Jan 31, Wellington
5th T20I, Sun Feb 2, Mt Maunganui
1 unit on India to beat New Zealand 4-1 at 11/5 with Bet365 app
2 units on Colin Munro to be Top NZ Series Batsman at 3/1 with Bet365 app
1 unit on Lokesh Rahul to be India Top Series Batsman at 7/2 with Bet365 app
1 unit on Mitchell Santner to be Top NZ Series Bowler at 4/1 with 10Cric app
1 unit on Mohammad Shami to be Top India Series Bowler at 7/2 with Bet365 app