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.
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.
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.
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