Having clinched the three-match series in Ranchi on Friday, India are likely to test their bench strength in the third T20 international against New Zealand at Kolkata's Eden Gardens on Sunday.
The India vs New Zealand match may technically be a dead rubber but it will still provide an opportunity for the youngsters who have been picked in the Indian team on the strength of their IPL and domestic performances.
India have blooded two players in the ongoing series. While Venkatesh Iyer won his India cap in the first T20 in Jaipur, Harshal Patel made his debut in Ranchi. Harshal, who was the highest wicket-taker in IPL 2021, was instrumental in India's seven-wicket win in Ranchi.
India vs New Zealand rivalry has gained a new dimension in recent times. India lost the World Test Championship final in UK earlier this year but the T20 World Cup 2021 defeat against the Kiwis effectively ended India's run in the UAE.
Debut for #TeamIndia ðÂÂÂÂÂÂ— BCCI (@BCCI) November 20, 2021
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New Zealand went on to reach the T20 World Cup final but fell short against a marauding Australian team that won the shortest version of the World Cup for the frst time in grand style.
Having played T20 cricket continuously, a weary New Zealand are not at full strength in the current series in India. Skipper Kane Williamson and Kyle Jamieson opted out to focus on the two-Test series coming up next.
The 7 PM start will mean the India vs New Zealand match will be played in cool climes. But the dew will be a factor and if IPL matches are a trend, then win toss and chase is a tried and tested formula for teams.
The City of Joy will welcome back Rohit Sharma, whose love affair with Eden Gardens is now part of cricket's folklore.
On November 13, 2014, Rohit smashed 264 not out against Sri Lanka, the highest individual score in an ODI, at Eden. A 3-0 scoreline on Sunday will be the perfect icing on the cake for the new T20 captain of India.
India have been relentless in this series. The openers have been splendid. KL Rahul (15 and 65) and Rohit (48 and 55) have set the perfect platform for the middle order to flourish and Suryakumar Yadav, who scored a match-winning 62 in Jaipur, has been outstanding.
Expect team changes on Sunday. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was a pillar for Chennai Super Kings during IPL 2021, could replace Rahul while IPL heroes Avesh Khan, Ishan Kishan and Yuzvendra Chahal stand a good chance to make the Indian Playing XI.
New Zealand will look for an improved show in Kolkata. Barring Martin Guptill and Mark Chapman, the batting has struggled. Williamson's absence has been felt. But the Kiwis have the bowling arsenal to test the Indian batsmen. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne will have to raise their bowling levels to contain Team India.
India (from): Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vc), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Avesh Khan, Mohd Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan.
New Zealand (from): Tim Southee (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert and Ish Sodhi.