Series is squared 1-1    AFP
Series is squared 1-1 AFP

New Zealand dropped Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli at Mumbai. They conceded 154 runs for their blunders. They lost the match, also losing the No. 1 spot to Pakistan.

India emulated their opposition’s mistakes at Rajkot. Bhuvneshwar Kumar spilled Colin Munro’s pull at deep mid-wicket. To be fair, Bhuvi did well to restrict the ball from going for six. Munro took a run and reached 36. Shreyas Iyer then dropped a regulation (by modern-day fielding standards) catch at long-on. Munro went on to become the first player to hit a hundred against India in their own den, helping New Zealand square the series.

Both teams, aware of their errors, move to Thiruvananthapuram for the third and final T20I.

Likely XI for India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Dinesh Karthik/Manish Pandey/KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Akshar Patel/Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj/Kuldeep Yadav.

Rain threat looms large over Greenfield International Stadium, which will host its first international match. If the weather reduces the game, an extra batsman will be handy than a bowler.

It is going to be a good batting wicket with a quick outfield, Jayesh George, secretary of Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), told Hindustan Times.

India have Karthik, Pandey, and Rahul to bat in the middle order. Given Rahul’s expertise, he will lose the race. India will have to narrow down the choice between Karthik and Pandey.

Siraj made Kane Williamson his first international wicket, but ended up leaking runs at 13.50 an over. In a crucial match India won t want to risk with an inexperienced candidate, but the newcomer deserves another chance. After all he was unlucky to bowl on a batter-friendly track.

Chinaman bowler Kuldeep is the only replacement available. He has not played since the run-sprinkling Mumbai ODI.

Likely XI for New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Tom Bruce, Tom Latham/Glenn Phillips (wk), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi

New Zealand missed Latham’s services behind the wickets, as Glenn Phillips faltered during the second T20I, including a missed stumping chance of Dhoni. With Munro scoring bulk of the runs, Phillips did not get to bat. Choosing an experienced Latham over Phillips will keep New Zealand in better stead.

Did you know?

– If New Zealand win, they will reclaim the No. 1 spot; if India win, they will remain at No. 5.

– Kohli, second-highest run-scorer in the format, needs 53 runs to complete 2,000 runs.

– Martin Guptill needs 35 runs to surpass Tillakaratne Dilshan (1,889) and become the third-highest run-scorer. If Kohli goes for a duck and Guptill scores 89 runs, the latter will move to the second spot.

– Greenfield International Cricket Stadium will become India’s 50th international venue.

Players to watch out for

Boult took a four-for and yet lost the Player of the Match award to the centurion Latham at Mumbai. He again took 4 wickets at Rajkot, but the Munro, with his hundred, wicket (and catch), took the cake (although pies are easier to carry). For that matter, these are the only matches that New Zealand emerged victorious in. India need to be wary of the lightening Boult.

India vs New Zealand, 3rd T20I, statistical preview: India’s 50th venue and more
India vs New Zealand, 3rd T20I, statistical preview: India’s 50th venue and more

If Bhuvi has a bad day, Bumrah makes up for him. If Bumrah does not take a wicket, Bhuvi finds a way to provide breakthroughs. India cannot ask for a better pace pair. New Zealand, however, have been shrewd with their approach. They do not give away wickets to Bhuvi and Bumrah so they can keep wickets in hand to attack the others.

TIME: 19:00 | 13.30