India v New Zealand
Wednesday March 16, 1:00am
The 2016 ICC World T20 tournament main stage kicks off when India host New Zealand in Nagpur on Wednesday Morning.
India enter the competition as hot favourites off the back of 10 wins in their past 11 T20Is. Their only recent blemish came in a narrow warm-up loss to South Africa where India experimented with the make-up of their bowling attack. Indeed a settled side has been the key to their success, with as many as ten players featuring in 10 out of those past 11 fixtures.
At least one of their top three has made a score of 40 or more in all 10 wins bar the comfortable chase of 82 against the lowly UAE. However it has been the surprising performance of their bowling attack, led by the awkward Jasprit Bumrah, which has given home fans the most encouragement as they have not conceded more than 140 in their past eight encounters.
The Black Caps will be aiming to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2007 but face a tough task first up against the hosts. While they are without the retired Brendon McCullum they do have plenty of explosiveness in their top order via the likes of Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Corey Anderson, with captain Kane Williamson providing the steadying influence.
Although they have picked a spin-heavy squad, New Zealand’s chances will still largely rest on the performance of seamers Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan. The Black Caps also come into the tournament in enviable form, winning six of their last eight T20Is, while their warm-up games produced a comprehensive win over Sri Lanka and narrow loss to England.
Vidharbha Cricket Association Stadium
Nagpur hosted all Group B qualifiers with the average first innings score coming in at 7/151 while the side batting first won four out of six games. The only T20I played at the ground prior to that was also won by the side batting first when Sri Lanka successfully defended 5/215 against India in 2009.
- India have won 10 of their last 11 T20Is.
- However India have only won two of their past five T20Is at home.
- New Zealand have won six of their past eight T20Is.
- New Zealand have only ever played one T20I in India, however have won only four of their last 12 T20Is in Asia.
- The side batting first has won 5 out of 7 T20Is played at the Vidharbha Cricket Association Ground.
India are unsurprisingly favourites for this clash, however New Zealand should not be discounted, especially with match-winners such as Williamson, Guptill, Anderson and Boult at their disposal.
Where the Black Caps can really do some damage is up front – both with bat and ball – as the top-order of Guptill, Williamson and Munro can target the Indian seamers, while the new ball pair of Southee and Boult can make early in-roads if the ball does a bit in the air.
However the hosts clearly have the edge in the middle overs with a superior slow-bowling contingent, and at the death where New Zealand’s middle-order falls away and their bowling is less effective.
So my suggested approach is to back the Kiwis at starting price before looking to exit after they ideally get off to a rapid start.