Fire versus Ice. Vigour versus Composure. Stars versus Fighters- whatnot.
Soon after the completion of the 2021 T20 World cup, it’s time for India versus New Zealand.
The two teams met each other in a world cup match some days ago and today they are going to have a face off yet again in the first T20I of the three-match series at Jaipur.
However, the relationship between these two teams has become like that between Tom and Jerry. New Zealand always come with better preparation and frustrates India the moment it matters the most; it has become a norm now. Everyone knows the rivalry between these two sides.
Let’s visualize it statistically.
Since 2014, India and New Zealand have faced each other in twenty-two ODIs, thirteen T20Is and eight tests. In ODIs, New Zealand are ahead by a margin of 12-9. In the shortest format, the Indians have the upper hand by a margin of 8-5 and in the longest format, the Kiwis have won four games whereas India have managed to win three times. So overall, New Zealand have emerged victorious on twenty-one occasions, while the Indian team has managed to win twenty games. This suggests that this rivalry isn’t as one-sided as it seems from outside. In fact, there has been some cracking contest. But what adds fuel to this clash is the dominance of New Zealand in all four games in the ICC events across formats.
In recent years, India have played plenty of cricket against New Zealand. But what excites us is the way the Kiwis have dominated in the major games including the final of WTC, the semifinal of 2019 world cup and the virtual knockout of the recently concluded T20 World cup. Their transition from an average side in 2011 to a formidable one in 2021 is inspirational. In fact, they have proved to be one of the top contenders for the trophy in ICC events across formats. So, India’s defeats are surely not shocking and New Zealand have simply been better in all those games.
How did New Zealand get the better of India in crucial games?
One thing is common in all these important victories. They know that India’s biggest strength is their batting and they have always found a way to demolish the Indian batting. Their bowling attack is multi-dimensional having two really good swing bowlers in Boult and Southee, an ever-versatile Kyle Jamieson, two guys in Milne and Ferguson who can constantly clock 150kph, Matt Henry who is an expert in operating scrambled seam deliveries, a work horse in Neil Wagner and last but not the least, the experienced spin duo of Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner. They pick their weapons as per the condition and the tactician Kane Williamson uses them to perfection. India have always failed to anticipate the upcoming challenges from New Zealand and therefore seemed unprepared in the middle on the given day.
Now the question arises; how can India solve the ‘Kiwi puzzle’?
India needs to take New Zealand more seriously as the latter seem to have the blueprint to tackle the possible challenges coming in their way from India. New Zealand’s plans have become a bit too predictable from the way they have attacked the Indian top order with swing and seam on most of the occasions. Therefore, the Indian team needs to prepare good players of the moving ball at first place. Secondly, they have been playing against Sodhi and Santner since a long time, but somehow have been failed to dominate them. They surely need to address this issue and get good power-hitters of spin bowling in the middle overs. Most importantly, the Kiwis have always been very disciplined with their line and length. So, the Indian batters should test their patience and compel them to do something out of the box to get wickets under challenging conditions. If New Zealand are mentally tough, the Indians need to be tougher.
The New Zealand squad is almost the same that took the field in the t20 world cup. Therefore, the Indian team has the opportunity to read the gameplan of the Kiwis precisely and better their game against them. With the start of this series, a new era is going to begin in the Indian cricket under the leadership of Rohit Sharma and the guidance of the great Rahul Dravid. We hope the Indian players prepare themselves in a better way to face their recent rivals and crack the ‘Kiwi code’ in crucial games.