Ahead of the 3rd T20I between India and New Zealand in Thiruvananthapuram, a board outside the Greenfield stadium reveals that all tickets are sold despite the fact that it has the capacity of around 50,000. The series decider will be played on Tuesday.
It’s taken more than three years for international cricket to come back to Kerala, and it comes in the form of cricket’s shortest format – moving the base from Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram. Green Fields, which is set to host the nerve wrecking game, is set to become the 50th international venue in the country.
However, all the buzz around the game threatens to be discouraged by an emerging threat of rain. Two spells of showers are expected on the day of the match, and even if the match manages to go on, courtesy the sub-air system in place, the possibility of a shortened encounter is high.
Given India’s latest experiment of going in with five frontline bowlers, apart from Hardik Pandya, a shortened match could support their plans. While it could mean the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya could be more dangerous, the likes of MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma – who can be slow-starters – would have to make amendments in their approach.
New Zealand can be equally lethal in such a scenario, especially if Colin Munro, who scored a century in the last match, hangs in.
Both the teams decided to take rest ahead of the match and will have a practice session only just before the match. Given that it’s a new venue where none of the cricketers have earlier played and the complexities of the weather, the playing conditions will remain a surprise. As a result, both the sides will finalize on the playing XI only a few hours prior to the start of the game.
Considering the recent domestic match between Kerala and Jharkhand where 26 of the 31 wickets fallen were taken by spinners in just 3 days, it seems that the pitch will support the spinners. And in that regard, New Zealand have aced quite well. Not only have Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner managed to trouble the Indian batsmen, but the New Zealand batsmen have an upper hand over India’s spinners.
Given the middle order mess that India is in, the performance of the openers – the only two batsmen who seem certain of their position – remains critical. And thus, the role of the Kiwi pacers also becomes crucial.
However, Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar also given confirmation each member of the Indian team is fit and available for selection. However, with the team having little knowledge about the conditions, the playing XI will be decided only a few hours prior to the match. As far as the combination is concerned, India seems to go with the same team.
Similar to the men in blue, the Kiwis will also finalize their playing XI on Tuesday after assessing the conditions on the morning of the match. The pitch has been beneficial for spinners in the recent past and that might prompt New Zealand to bring Tom Latham back into the squad. In doing so, considering the possibility of a shorter play, they might give preference to Glenn Philips’s superior skills with the gloves over Tom Bruce’s batting abilities.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tom Latham/ Tom Bruce, Glenn Philips, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult.