May 19 2019
India will look to sew it up here and now
04 November 2017

New Zealand has many players who have the wherewithal to take the series to the decider

This is the town where India’s two popular cricketers — Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja — cut their teeth in First Class cricket, amassed runs, captured a bucketful of wickets, made a big impact and advanced in their careers to play for the country with distinction.

But typecast as a conventional Test batsman, Pujara does not fit into the scheme of things in the limited-over format, and Jadeja, a proven all-rounder and a brilliant fielder, does not find a place in a national team in which he was not long ago regarded as part and parcel.

Both will not feature in the second India-New Zealand T20I here on Saturday. They are busy, though, for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy match against Jharkhand at the Race Course venue where Pujara piled up 204 and Jadeja made 42 but didn’t pick up a wicket in the first innings.

Team has moved on

The locals cannot probably stomach the reasons being hinted for Jadeja’s continued absence from the Indian team for the short format of the game, but the fact remains that the Indian team under Virat Kohli has gone ahead with its business in the home internationals against Australia and New Zealand in an unperturbed manner, giving as much opportunities to the two wrist spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, and the Gujarat left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

Moreover, with the team’s palpable intent of nurturing seamer all-rounder Hardik Pandya as a high-performance player, the likes of Jadeja and R. Ashwin may have to wait to get a recall for the ODIs and T20Is.

Kohli’s men have not been beaten after they went down to the visitor in Mumbai in the opening ODI, but they know that New Zealand has a number of players who have the wherewithal to do the tricks in order to win a match for their side, especially in the T20 format in which it had not lost a match to India until the farewell match for Ashish Nehra at the Kotla on Wednesday.

There was heavy activity around the pitch on Friday at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) located at Khanderi Village along the Rajkot-Jamnagar Highway with almost a dozen women workers using thick brooms to carry out mopping operations under the supervision of the BCCI curator Vishvajitsinh Padhiar.

Brown pitch

From a distance, the match pitch looked typically brown as against an adjacent one that had plenty of grass cover.

Generally, batsmen find the conditions here very favourable.

In the only T20I played here four years ago, Australia set India a target of 202 and Yuvraj Singh took the home team past the finish line with a 57- ball unbeaten 77 with two balls to spare.

So those who decide to watch the match at the venue can expect a real treat from the batsmen and have some fun.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, K.L. Rahul, Manish Pandey and Mohammed Siraj.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt.), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee.

Play starts at 7 p.m.



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