WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – India and New Zealand will both be looking to pull away from disappointing campaigns at the Twenty20 World Cup in a white-ball series that begins Friday with the first of three T20 internationals in Wellington.
Both teams were beaten by eventual champions England and New Zealand in the cup semi-finals in Australia, India and Pakistan. These losses ended campaigns that had been far more promising.
New Zealand’s streak of three T20 games and three one-day internationals allows both teams to put those disappointments behind in an instant. Having left the T20 World Championship behind, both teams are already looking forward to the 50-over World Championship in India and next year.
New Zealand may have delivered a near-perfect game in the opening game of the World Cup against Australia, where hard hitting was backed up by aggressive and accurate bowling. But it couldn’t reproduce that performance and now has to work to achieve consistency.
Young opener Finn Allen was New Zealand’s discovery of the tournament and has now become so established in their line-up that veteran Martin Guptill has been dropped from the series. Allen set the tone with his 42 from 16 in the win over Australia, but he also struggled to repeat that form.
“Finn is a very exciting talent,” said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson at a recent media briefing. “It was great to see him on the side and expressing himself.
“You mentioned the Australian game where he made an amazing contribution and it really helped us get ahead of the game. That’s one of his real strengths, it’s a matter of course for him in the way he plays.”
Williamson has his own form issues. His 61 against Ireland was his best performance in an otherwise lackluster World Cup. Williamson was recently sacked by Sunrisers Hyderabad, their Indian Premier League franchise for the last eight seasons.
His recent struggles in form have a lot to do with a chronic elbow injury that has recently impacted his availability.
“The elbow is improving,” Williamson said. “It certainly took quite a long time, but now I feel much better.”
New Zealand has moved on by naming the same lineup as at the World Cup, with the exception of fast bowler Trent Boult. Boult canceled the central contract with New Zealand Cricket earlier this year and head coach Gary Stead has indicated the selectors will give priority to contract players.
“We are all aware of Trent’s world-class skills, but at this point, as we prepare for more global events, we want to provide opportunities and experiences for others,” Stead said.
India has faced a bigger backlash than New Zealand over their alleged failure at the World Cup. Much of the criticism has fallen on captain Rohit Sharma, who has been accused of being timid or ‘old school’ at T20 cricket. There have been calls for former captain MS Dhoni to be given an oversight role in the team.
Hardik Pandya will captain India in place of Rohit in the T20 games against New Zealand that start in Wellington on Friday. He acknowledged criticism but said India “doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone”.
“We know there are disappointments about the World Cup, but we are professionals and we have to deal with our successes and our failures,” he said. “We have to move forward and look forward to getting better. We need to correct the mistakes we made and make sure we don’t repeat that in this series.”
Pandya said there are a number of new players in the India squad who would bring “new energy”.
“It’s a new bunch, new guys with a lot of new excitement, new energy, so it’s going to be pretty exciting,” he said. “The next T20 World Championship will take place in two years. . . Until then we have time and a lot of people will have the opportunity to show what they can do. The roadmap starts now.”
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