India start their New Zealand tour with the five-match T20 International series at Auckland's Eden Park on Friday (February 24m 2020). While New Zealand have the upper hand in T20Is against India, having won eight of the 11 matches against India, the visitors are coming into the series following a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Australia in the One Day International series at home.
The match starts 12:20pm Indian Standard Time (07:50pm local, 06:50am GMT) and Virat Kohli's team will be looking to get some good practice to ensure momentum for World T20 in Australia in October-November 2020. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will be the openers as Shikhar Dhawan missed the tour due to shoulder injury.
Virat Kohli, in sublime form, along with Rohit form the lynchpin of India's batting while the middle order comprises of Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Manish Pandey. There is a possibility that wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson and young Prithvi Shaw too could get a chance.
With New Zealand pitches and weather favouring pacers, the Indian attack could see fast bowling spearheads Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami being joined by Navdeep Saini and pace-bowling all-rounder Shivan Dube. Ravinder Jadeja's knack of picking wickets and his big-hitting prowess can play a role in getting him a place in the playing XI.
New Zealand have had a poor record in the recent months with the 0-3 loss to Australia in the Test series. But the Black Caps are an extremely dangerous limited-overs side as they have shown time and again. Captain Kane Williamson is back in the team after their ICC World Cup 2019 final defeat to England and his batting skills can make a huge difference.
Weather and pitch:
Auckland will see low clouds in the morning and evening while the day will be sunny. There will be a moderate breeze. The pitch is a flat batting surface which along with the small ground has seen the batsmen dominating the bowlers. In the only T20I match between India and New Zealand at the venue on February 8, 2019, the visitors had won by 7 wickets with Rohit Sharma scoring 50 runs in just 29 balls.
Out of the 19 T20I matches played at the ground by New Zealand, only 6 have seen them emerging as winners while they have lost 10 and the remaining three have ended in a tie.