India vs New Zealand: The FIVE big battles

India’s cricketers face one of their biggest tests in recent times when they take on New Zealand with their T20 World Cup hopes on the line.

India’s batting was a big letdown in the opening match against Pakistan, which India lost by 10 wickets.

Another loss in their second match against the Kiwis will all but end their hopes of going through to the semis.

Openers Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul will be looking to bounce back after failing against Pakistan, but they face a challenge in the Kiwi pace duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

Mohammed Shami will look to target the key wicket of Kane Williamson, while the Indian spinners could be tricky for the New Zealand middle order, light on experience:

A look at the five key battles:

Rohit Sharma vs Trent Boult

Trent Boult has been the key player for New Zealand in big games.

The left-arm pacer has troubled India’s batting line-up in the past, most famously the 2019 World Cup semi-final when he bagged Virat Kohli’s wicket while also taking five wickets in the ICC World Test Championship final earlier this year.

Boult, who plays for Mumbai Indians, knows a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of his IPL team-mate Rohit Sharma.

Rohit may have a slight weakness against left-arm pacers but having played a lot against Boult in the nets in the IPL in the last two years, he will be confident of tackling the Kiwi fast bowler.

Boult last played against India in a T20 international in 2017.

The normally prolific Rohit doesn’t boast of a good record in T20s against New Zealand, with 338 runs in 13 games with four fifties, but one thing is sure if he gets off to a start he will surely convert into a big knock.

K L Rahul vs Tim Southee

K L Rahul will be looking to make up for his early dismissal against Pakistan with a big score against New Zealand.

Rahul came into the T20 World Cup on the back of a superb showing in the second leg of IPL 2021 in the UAE. He will also take confidence from the fact that he did well in the five-match series in New Zealand last year, when he scored 224 runs in five games at a strike rate of 144.

But he will need to watch out for the experienced Tim Southee, who is a dangerous operator with the new ball.

Southee will look to make the new ball count and draw into Rahul into playing a loose shot away from his body.

Virat Kohli vs Ish Sodhi

Virat Kohli played a vital knock in the opening game against Pakistan with a half-century to rally India after a horror start.

Kohli has a slight weakness against leg-spinners hence New Zealand will look to Ish Sodhi to attack him early on.

Sodhi has been in good form recently, taking 2/28 against Pakistan and 3/26 against England in the practice game.

Mohammed Shami vs Kane Williamson

Mohammed Shami endured a torrid time after the Pakistan match with trolls baying for him on social media.

Shami may have had a rare off day last Sunday, but trust the fast bowler to make amends against the Kiwis.

He was one of the top bowlers in IPL 2021, with 19 wickets an economy rate of 7.50 and will certainly eye Kane Williamson’s wicket.

The Kiwis rely big time on their skipper to lead their batting against a tough bowling side like India.

Williamson’s record against India in T20s is not encouraging, with 325 runs from 11 games at an average of just under 30.

Jadeja-Chakravarthy vs NZ middle order

Varun Chakravarthy and Ravindra Jadeja struggled to make an impression with the ball against Pakistan.

The New Zealand middle order including — Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Tim Siefert and James Neesham — could struggle against the Indian spinners.

The three Pakistan spinners registered combined figures of 3/59 in in nine overs to stifle the Kiwi batsmen in the middle overs and that is the role the Indian spinners will look to perform.

India could also bring in Ravichandran Ashwin in the mix, with New Zealand batsmen traditionally not great against spin.

Photographs: Getty Images

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