3 Indian players whose form will be closely watched during the T20I series vs New Zealand

New Zealand v India - 2nd T20
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Team India are well and truly on the road to the 2024 T20 World Cup. The opening game of the upcoming three-match T20I series against New Zealand will be played in Ranchi on Friday, January 27.

Hardik Pandya will lead the Men in Blue for the assignment, having assumed the responsibility since the conclusion of the 2022 T20 World Cup. India’s squad for the series features several fresh faces as they strive to move towards a younger, fitter side. Some of those names will be firmly in the spotlight.

India’s T20I squad against New Zealand: Hardik Pandya (captain), Suryakumar Yadav (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Prithvi Shaw, Mukesh Kumar

Here are three Indian players whose form will be closely watched during the T20I series against New Zealand.

#3 Ishan Kishan

New Zealand v India - 2nd T20
New Zealand v India – 2nd T20

Ishan Kishan has played six innings across formats for India since his record-breaking double century against Bangladesh. In those, he has scores of 37, 2, 1, 5, 8* and 17.

Kishan has clearly underwhelmed over the last few matches and needs a run of scores to get himself going. With KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant unavailable for selection against New Zealand, he has been picked as the primary gloveman and has an excellent chance to make an impression.

All eyes will be on Kishan as he attempts to get back amongst the runs. With India crying out for a finisher, Jitesh Sharma will be eyeing the wicket-keeper’s spot if the southpaw doesn’t fire.

#2 Yuzvendra Chahal

New Zealand v India - 2nd T20
New Zealand v India – 2nd T20

It remains to be seen if Yuzvendra Chahal makes India’s playing XI for the first T20I against New Zealand. The team management has backed him through thick and thin despite his poor returns, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the experienced leggie strap up once again.

If Chahal plays, he will be under severe pressure. Kuldeep Yadav’s form and confidence seem to be improving by the day, and he has usurped his more experienced partner to become India’s premier wrist-spinner in ODI cricket. The same fate could befall Chahal in the shortest format, too.

Moreover, Ravi Bishnoi, who is arguably India’s best wrist-spinner in T20s, isn’t part of the squad right now. The Men in Blue could easily drop Chahal and bring in Bishnoi at the next possible opportunity. The veteran leg-spinner’s every move against New Zealand will be watched.

#1 Shivam Mavi

Barring Hardik Pandya, India are without quality pace-bowling all-rounders in white-ball cricket right now. They’ve tried to make do with Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur in ODI cricket, but the T20I format is a different ball game altogether.

The Men in Blue persisted with Harshal Patel throughout 2022 and even at the start of 2023, but his high economy rate seems to have finally caught up to him. The only fast-bowling all-rounder in India’s squad for the New Zealand series barring the skipper is Shivam Mavi, who played an impressive knock against Sri Lanka.

So Mavi is bound to feature in the playing XI, batting at No. 8 to shore up the department. He is arguably a touch raw for international cricket and his pace has also dropped significantly of late. The youngster’s performances will be a major talking point during the upcoming series.

Poll : Should India pick Kuldeep Yadav over Yuzvendra Chahal during the NZ T20Is?

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