India will have to raise their game a few notches as the Hardik Pandya-led side faces a must-win situation to level the three-match T20I series against New Zealand, here on Sunday.
India were caught in a spin web on the Ranchi pitch and lost the opener by 21 runs on Friday.
The loss also highlighted Indias bowling profligacy, especially by the pace duo of Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik.
If tearaway pacer Malik conceded 16 runs in one over, Arshdeep leaked 27 runs in the last over, which put pressure on the India batters while chasing.
That expensive over from the young left-arm quick was the turning point as he was smashed for three sixes and a boundary.
Indias batters were off to an inauspicious start with the top-three managing just 15 runs. The hosts ended up scoring 155/9, which would have been a par score to defend on the wicket, as indicated by Washington Sundar after the match.
“150 wouldve been par and we wouldve been very happy with it,” the India all-rounder said.
Skipper Pandya, however, is unlikely to bring in uncapped pace bowler Mukesh Kumar for the second T20I and will probably back Arshdeep to bounce back.
Kishan, Hooda under scrutiny ========================= While Shubman Gill, who has been in red-hot form in the ODIs, has played just four T20Is and is still learning the nuances of the shortest format, the big concern will be the two key batters — Ishan Kishan and Deepak Hooda.
Occupying the opening spot, Kishan is nowhere near the ominous form he showed while slamming a record-breaking ODI double-century against Bangladesh last December.
Since then, Ishans scores in the last seven innings in both ODIs and T20Is read 37, 2, 1, 5, 8 n.o., 17 and 4.
If one just considers the T20Is, its been a while since he last scored a fifty — against South Africa on June 14, 2022.
Hooda, too, hasnt enjoyed much success as a lower middle-order batter and averages just 17.88 in the last 13 innings, with the highest being the unbeaten 41 against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede.
His innings of 10 runs from 10 balls at No. 7 on Friday lacked impact and the rotation of strike also came under scrutiny, especially when the New Zealand spinners were bowling.
While India are unlikely to try out newcomer Jitesh Sharma in the role of wicketkeeper-batter in the middle-order on Sunday, time is certainly running out for Hooda and Kishan.
Despite the loss on Friday, there was a huge positive for India in Washington Sundar, who not only bowled a tidy four overs of spin to take two wickets, but also emerged Indias topscorer with a 28-ball 50 batting at No. 6.
With No.1-ranked T20I batter Suryakumar Yadav in terrific form, India would need someone at the top of the order to raise their game and do some big hitting, given that the Ekana Stadium here has big boundaries.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, would look for another victory to secure a memorable series win in India. They will once again rely heavily on their in-form duo of Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell.
Teams (from) India: Hardik Pandya (c), Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Ishan Kishan (wk), Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar.
New Zealand: Mitchell Santner (c), Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Phillips, Dane Cleaver (wk), Mark Chapman, Michael Bracewell, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Rippon, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Jacob Duffy, Henry Shipley and Ben Lister.
Match starts: 7pm.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)