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    India vs New Zealand; The first Twenty20 today

    Team India will enter a new era in Jaipur when they take the field against New Zealand in the first T20I on Wednesday. This will be their first match with Rahul Dravid as head coach and Rohit Sharma as the permanent T20I captain. The BCCI, a few days back, announced a very different-looking squad; one devoid of regulars like Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja to name a few.

    The absence of such huge names will be an opportunity for numerous youngsters to show their mettle. The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Avesh Khan, Venkatesh Iyer, and Harshal Patel will be eager to perform on the big stage. Moreover, the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Deepak Chahar, who will return to the fold, will also have a point to prove.  

    With so many options for each position, it will be interesting to see the playing XI that the new management will field. After a disastrous T20 World Cup 2021 campaign, where India lost to New Zealand in the Super 12 stage and eventually failed to make the semifinals, the Men In Blue will look to make a few amends.

    1) Rohit Sharma (C): India’s new permanent T20I skipper will be eager to start the new era on a high by scoring a handful of runs. He comes into the bilateral series in sensational form as he finished as the side’s second-highest run-scorer in the recently-concluded T20 World Cup with 174 runs. Moreover, his successful opening stands with KL Rahul provide India with all the more hopes of a strong start.

    2) KL Rahul: Talking about KL Rahul brings our attention to his numbers in the T20 WC; which read 194 runs in 6 matches. The swashbuckling right-hander looked the best batter in the team due to his timings and awareness. No wonder, he finished the showpiece event as the side’s highest run-getter. The Black Caps will be wary of the threat posed by India’s new T20I vice-captain.  

    3) Ishan Kishan: The Indian middle-order is spoilt for choices and every player contesting for a spot in that line-up will be aware of the competition. The ‘Men in Blue’ possess a talented lot but for the first game, they could go with Ishan Kishan. Since making his T20I debut, Kishan has opened the batting and also batted at no.3. His big-hitting abilities make him a strong prospect for the spot and with the openers slot also booked, Venkatesh Iyer might have to wait to make his debut.

    4) Suryakumar Yadav: The right-hander did not particularly live up to the expectations during the T20 World Cup but looked more than decent during his time out. He will be eager to hit the ground running and find his mojo. And if he does, the NZ bowlers will find it difficult to stop him.

    5) Shreyas Iyer: The talented left-hander, who was in the reserves squad for the T20 WC, is expected to make his return to the middle order. He’s a big hitter who can also play according to the situation. Hence, he makes for an assured figure in the middle-order.  

    6) Rishabh Pant (WK): He was the third-highest run-getter for India in the T20 WC but his numbers were not as high as he would have liked. He impressed one and all with his one-handed sixes throughout his time in the UAE and once again, the hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batter will hold key for the side in the lower middle-order.

    7) R Ashwin: India is likely to play two all-rounders and one of them is likely to be R Ashwin. Yes, Axar Patel is also fighting for the same spot but the fact that Ashwin was largely impressive during the T20 WC will play in his favour. Moreover, he is even more dangerous on home turf. Watch out, NZ!

    8) Deepak Chahar: He may not have featured in a single game during the T20 WC but his performance for IPL 2021 champions, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the UAE will most probably win him a spot in the side. He is a terrific, wicket-taking bowler and is also known for bowling tight overs in the Powerplay.

    9) Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Despite being off-colour throughout the year, Team India will continue to place faith in their supremely successful and proven white-ball campaigner in Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He will be the leader of the pace attack. 

    10) Avesh Khan: With 24 wickets in 16 matches, Khan was the second-most successful bowler in the recently-concluded IPL 2021. For Delhi Capitals, Avesh was the find of the season. Moreover, he was also a part of India’s red-ball squad in England. Keeping all these factors in mind, he could be in line to make his T20I debut ahead of Harshal Patel, the highest wicket-taker of IPL 2021, and Mohammed Siraj.

    11) Yuzvendra Chahal: He was missed dearly by the Indian team in the T20 World Cup. He was hurt and disappointed with the snub but now that he has been included in the squad, there is no reason for India’s second-highest wicket-taker in T20Is, Yuzvendra Chahal, to make a comeback. His partnership with Ashwin in the middle overs will hold great importance for India.

    India’s Predicted XI vs New Zealand: Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan & Yuzvendra Chahal.  

    The match will start at 7 pm at Sawai Mansingh Stadium. It can be seen on Star Sports Channels and Hot Star. The series consists of 3 Twenty20 matches and 2 Tests. With the next Twenty20 World Cup in Australia 11 months away, preparations are underway for both teams.

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