A new dawn beckons for the Indian Cricket Team with Rahul
Dravid taking over from Ravi Shastri as head coach and Virat Kohli handing over
the T20I captaincy reins to Rohit Sharma. The first outing for the new captain
and coach pair comes against the World Cup finalists New Zealand, with India
playing the Blackcaps in three T20Is in Jaipur (November 17), Ranchi (November
19) and Kolkata (November 21).
India beat New Zealand 5-0 in the previous bilateral T20I
series between the two sides in early 2020, but the Blackcaps upstaged the Men
in Blue in their most recent meeting in the 2021 T20 World Cup, beating India
comprehensively by eight wickets in Dubai.
The Kiwis have become India’s Achilles heel in major tournaments
in recent years, knocking India out in each of the last three ICC events, and
the Men in Blue will be looking to set the record straight in this series.
With the next T20 World Cup in Australia less than 365 days
away, these three matches also represent the perfect opportunity for the Men in
Blue to correct their course under a new regime after their disappointing
performance in the recently concluded World Cup in the UAE.
India have made wholesale changes to their Rohit Sharma-led
squad for this 3-match series. India’s all-format stars Virat Kohli, Jasprit
Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohamad Shami have all been rested, while Hardik
Pandya has been omitted from the side due to his bowling fitness issues.
Other absentees from the 15-man T20 World Cup squad include
Shardul Thakur, Varun Chakravarthy and Rahul Chahar.
India’s three reserves for the World Cup squad – Shreyas
Iyer, Deepak Chahar and Axar Patel – return to the set-up alongside the RCB
pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Siraj. The selectors have also rewarded
those who have performed for their franchisees in IPL 2021, with Venkatesh
Iyer, Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel all receiving their maiden call ups to the
national side. Orange cap winner Ruturaj Gaikwad also returns to the Indian
squad after playing two T20Is against Sri Lanka earlier this year.
For New Zealand, Kane Williamson will sit out the T20I
series in order to prepare for the upcoming Test matches, with Tim Southee
leading the team in his stead. However, the Blackcaps do welcome the return of
Lockie Ferguson to the side after the pacer was ruled out of the T20 World Cup
due to a calf strain.