New Zealand v India T20s: Rohit Sharma v Lockie Ferguson and other key battles

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Stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma will be key for India.

After their exertions in the preceding ODI series, New Zealand and India will now lock horns in the T20 series which gets underway in Wellington on Wednesday.

The hosts will be looking to bounce back from their 4-1 thrashing in the ODIs against the visitors who are yet to win a T20 on New Zealand soil.

We take a look at three key battles which could prove decisive in shaping the three-match series.

KANE WILLIAMSON v KULDEEP YADAV

New Zealand will look towards Kane Williamson to get them back on track after their ODI drubbing, but the Kiwi skipper’s recent form leaves plenty to be desired.

Williamson started the ODI series against the Indians with a half-century at Napier before quickly fading away in the remaining four matches. The best batsman in the New Zealand side will want to serve another reminder of his prowess in the shortest format after his stupendous IPL showings for Sunrisers Hyderabad last year.

The Kiwi stalwart will have his task cut out against Kuldeep Yadav who was in excellent form in the ODI series. The India wrist-spinner has picked up nearly two wickets per match in his brief T20I career so far, and his two four-wicket hauls in the ODI series win will give the hosts plenty to ponder as they seek to overcome their shortcomings against his wily ways.

Williamson's battle against Kuldeep should be an intriguing one.

Williamson’s battle against Kuldeep should be an intriguing one.

COLIN MUNRO v BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR

How Colin Munro has failed to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in limited-overs cricket for New Zealand remains one of the greatest mysteries in the sport. The left-handed opener was woefully off-colour in the ODI series and would have been dropped if not for the injury blow to his partner Martin Guptill.

With Guptill still out injured, Munro has an opportunity to overturn his fortunes in the T20 series. His ODI record might scream average but the opener has shown his brilliance in patches when it comes to the 20-over format.

With three T20I tons to his name, Munro is capable of pulling off the occasional blinders and it will be up to Bhuvneshwar Kumar to stop him with the new ball. The India pacer has been getting back to his very best after a lengthy injury layoff and his performances in the ODI series wins over the Aussies and the Kiwis should put him in good stead ahead of the T20 battle.

Munro won't have it easy against Bhuvneshwar.

Munro won’t have it easy against Bhuvneshwar.

LOCKIE FERGUSON v ROHIT SHARMA

With Virat Kohli absent for India, it will once again be his deputy Rohit Sharma who will lead the men in blue.

The India opener has been in smashing form in limited-overs cricket over the past three years or so and only Kohli can claim to have a better record in the same timeline. With a record four T20I tons to his name, Rohit will be the biggest thorn in New Zealand’s side and the hosts will be desperate to dismiss him cheaply in the three-match series.

With Trent Boult rested, the Kiwis will be looking towards Lockie Ferguson to the damage with the new-ball. The express New Zealand pacer has played only three T20s for his country so far but has managed to impress with seven wickets.

Ferguson was a tad expensive against the Indians in the ODI loss but he has shown that he can be a frightening prospect in the 20-over format with his recent three-wicket haul against Sri Lanka.

Ferguson will be tasked with stopping Rohit.

Ferguson will be tasked with stopping Rohit.

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Kraigg Brathwaite to lead Windies in final Test against England in Jason Holder's absence

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Brathwaite will lead West Indies in the St. Lucia Test.

Kraigg Brathwaite has been confirmed to lead West Indies in the third and final Test against England in the absence of regular skipper Jason Holder.

Holder, who scored a remarkable double ton in Windies’ win in the first Test at Barbados, will serve a one-match suspension handed out to him by the ICC for his side’s slow over-rate in the second Test.

Brathwaite will lead the hosts in the final Test at St. Lucia which gets underway on Saturday. The 26-year-old has led the national team previously in the absence of Holder and was at the helm in West Indies’ defeat to Bangladesh in the subcontinent last year.

With Holder absent for the St Lucia clash, West Indies have called up Keemo Paul as a replacement. The 20-year-old pacer has played two Tests for Windies previously with his most recent appearance coming in the defeat to India at Rajkot last year.

Fast-bowler Alzarri Joseph has been retained in the Windies squad for the final match despite the death of his mother during the second Test at Antigua.

West Indies have already captured the three-match series with an unassailable 2-0 lead after emphatic victories at Bridgetown and Antigua.

The hosts inflicted a crushing 381-run defeat on England in the first Test before following it up with a comprehensive 10-wicket victory inside just three days in Antigua.

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Mushfiqur Rahim confident Bangladesh can win maiden ODI series in New Zealand

Waseem Ahmed 5/02/2019
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MushfIqur Rahim is in confident mood ahead of the NZ tour.

Bangladesh stalwart Mushfiqur Rahim believes the side’s upcoming tour of New Zealand could serve as the ideal preparation board for the 2019 ICC World Cup to be held in England.

Bangladesh are due to play three ODIs and as many Tests against the Blackcaps later this month and Rahim feels that the side are good enough to claim a maiden series victory in New Zealand in the 50-over format.

“If you look back you see that we have lost some close ODIs against them. But this time we are more experienced and more confident to beat them on their own soil,” the wicketkeeper-batsman was quoted as saying by United News of Bangladesh.

“We will play three ODIs against New Zealand. I think it will be great preparation for us ahead of the World Cup. We might see some high-scoring games in New Zealand. I think it will be a great challenge for us as well,” he added.

The Kiwis are reeling from a recent 4-1 thrashing at the hands of India but Rahim believes Kane Williamson and his men will still be a difficult proposition to crack in their own backyard.

Bangladesh have never won an ODI series in New Zealand.

Bangladesh have never won an ODI series in New Zealand.

“India have won the last series in New Zealand. Despite the loss, New Zealand fought hard. But I believe we can do well there,” he said.

Bangladesh’s top stars are currently involved in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League which culminates on February 8. That means that the national team will have a turnaround time of just five days before the first ODI against New Zealand at Napier gets underway on February 13.

Despite the lack of preparation time, Rahim feels that Bangladesh will be well prepared for the Kiwi test.

“It would be great if we could rest for seven days. We have to cover it up as we are professional cricketers. We were playing, so we should be match-prepared for the New Zealand tour,” Rahim concluded.

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