Venue – Sky Stadium, Wellington
Date: Friday, November 18
While this is way too soon to be playing again after the recently completed T20 World Cup, the Black Caps will host India in six matches across two formats before the end of November. The first three will be T20Is – matches that you have to assume the organizers would have expected to include at least one of the World Cup finalists if not the winner – and these are followed by three ODIs that form part of the 2020-2023 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.
It is easy to see how people could be burnt out by the recent amount of international cricket played. In order to combat this – and to boost ticket sales – these six matches will be played at six different venues across the two islands, with the first match in Wellington.
It cannot be a surprise that New Zealand has rested players from their squad for this white ball series, with it coming so soon after a tournament that was a drain both mentally and physically. Martin Guptill and Trent Boult are the two biggest names left out, with Boult having opted out of his central contract and Guptill having not played in Australia as New Zealand opted for the pair of Finn Allen and Devon Conway at the top of the order.
The ODI World Cup is less than a year away, so players identified for that tournament can expect to play a lot of international white ball over the next few months. Allen is one such player – he has picked up 308 runs in eight ODI matches for his country – and getting those combinations firing is going to be a big key if the Black Caps are looking to improve on the T20 World Cup showing.
It wasn’t so much that India lost to England in the T20 semi-final – defeats happen at this level of sport where the margins are thin – it was more how decisive it was that caused uproar in India. The 10-wicket defeat (the worst you can suffer) has led to many questions about an Indian side that, yet again, failed to finish on the biggest stage.
THeir preparations for the ODI World Cup begin now, with stand-in captain Hardik Pandya looking to pick up his squad and get the best out of them in both formats. One area that needs to improve is the scoring rate at the top of the order. Their rate of just about six runs an over during the first five overs was the worst of any team in the T20 World Cup except for UAE. This isn’t good enough, given India’s bats’ quality, while the bowlers try to settle at the beginning of the innings.
I think India will come out swinging here – they have to get some pride back – but their hosts are still among the best teams in white ball cricket. Allen will have another stellar innings, and his play will push the Black Caps to a home win at 8/10.