Kiwis get tough odds against India to return in form


New Zealand must be hurting and how. The last time they took the field they had been thrashed 3-0 in the Tests in Australia, and the last time they played a T20I, it ended in, well, a Super Over loss to England. New Zealand were leading that five-match T20I series 2-1 and even though they handed England an innings loss in the Test series later, crossing the Tasman Sea after that dented their confidence considerably. Now, New Zealand face a stiff opposition in India to end their home summer before landing in Australia again for three ODIs.

There's more experience to fall back on in the batting department, with Kane Williamson, who returns after missing the T20Is against England, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Colin Munro making the top and middle order.

The series will also be the first big one for both teams in the year of the T20 World Cup later this year, with over 20 matches to go for each.

India are also without a few injured players - Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar - but their depth in reserves has hardly ever been stronger. They will have their tails up after drubbing Sri Lanka 2-0 in T20Is and fighting back formidably against a full-strength Australia to win 2-1 in the ODIs. They have a settled bowling line-up with four quicks, two spinners and three allrounders to choose from. With Samson replacing Dhawan in the 16-man squad, it remains to be seen if he and Pandey will get a chance if Rishabh Pant gets to play as wicketkeeper and KL Rahul plays purely as a batsman.

Hamish Bennett will be in line to make his T20I debut with 17 international games to his name already. In the absence of New Zealand's main frontline quicks, Bennett now has a big task ahead against India's batting line-up that doesn't have as much experience in the lower-middle order.