India target another homes series win in T20 clash with Kiwis

Hardik Pandya captains team that will be without Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli

Hardik Pandya will lead the Indian team in the T20 series against New Zealand. AFP
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India will be aiming to continue their dominance at home as they prepare for a three-match T20 series against New Zealand, even though there is little at stake when looking at bigger assignments later in the year.

India are fresh from a 3-0 ODI series win against the Black Caps, a result that catapulted them to the top of the ODI rankings. That came on the back of T20 and ODI series wins over Sri Lanka at home in the preceding assignment.

While the big tournaments later in the year are the World Test Championships final and the 50-over World Cup in India, there is still quite a lot to play for when the teams clash in Ranchi on Friday.

The T20 leg of the Kiwis' visit gives Hardik Pandya an opportunity to fine-tune the side according to his vision, now that he has become the de facto captain of the 20-over side.

This will be the third series to be captained by Pandya, with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli not included in the team. It is not clear whether senior players Sharma and Kohli are out of the plans for T20 cricket, but it does give youngsters a chance to cement their spots and not let the management feel the need for any senior reinforcements.

Young opener Ruturaj Gaikwad has been ruled out of the series because of a wrist injury, which gives batsmen like Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw an opening to grab any chance that comes their way.

Among bowlers, young all-rounder Shivam Mavi has emerged as a potent hard-hitter who can be relied to bowl his seamers every match. In the spin department, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav could play ahead of his right-arm counterpart Yuzvendra Chahal as the team management seems to have more faith in the southpaw's wicket-taking instincts.

For New Zealand, left-arm seamer Ben Lister has been backed to make his debut after impressing with his variations in the domestic circuit.

More importantly, all performances in Indian conditions will count while selecting teams for the 50-over showpiece in October.

Updated: January 26, 2023, 3:10 PM