Will Santner yet again outfox Dhoni with his slow left-arm orthodox?    AFP
Will Santner yet again outfox Dhoni with his slow left-arm orthodox? AFP

How do you dismiss a batsman who averages over 50 across formats? Obviously he does not succumb to pressure. He does not play a rash shot. You think you know his weaknesses, but he bats as if he does not even have a memory of all that and moves on. What game plan do you make for Virat Kohli? Do you have a bowler in your team who can beat him all ends up? Do you a have particular field setting? Come on, there has to be some way. Do not tell me that James Anderson can have Kohli caught in the slip cordon. Kohli is way over that, and can execute a square-cut now.

Before the first T20I between India and New Zealand gets underway at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, let us decipher how-to-dismiss Kohli code, along with other key battles.

MS Dhoni vs Mitchell Santner

Santner does not need to turn the ball square to outfox Dhoni. He has thus far read Dhoni s footwork well. In their first face-off during 2016 World T20, Santner made Dhoni wait in the crease. An impatient Dhoni shimmied down, after scratching his way to a mere 7 in 9 balls, only to find Nathan McCullum at long-on. It was an unfamiliar sight: after all, here is a batsman who easily clears the ground against spinners.

They met the same year in an ODI series in India. After scoring 21 and 39 in the first two matches, Dhoni came into his elements and accumulated 80 runs at Mohali. Dhoni exploited the extra bounce the track offered. However, it was Santner s spell that restricted Dhoni s strike rate to 87.9.

Kane Williamson is aware of Dhoni s struggle against Santner. He made sure Dhoni played the most deliveries off the slow left-armer: off Santner s 27 deliveries Dhoni managed 21 runs including 16 dot deliveries. And this is where Santner will have an edge. If Dhoni bats in the middle order and produces dot balls, it will add pressure on India and gradually break their momentum.

Rohit Sharma vs New Zealand pacers

Trent Boult and Tim Southee have dismissed Rohit thrice and five times respectively in limited-overs cricket. Southee has had him dismissed in different ways. Given Rohit s reputation for being uncharacteristic at times, Southee s task gets easier. Boult, on the other hand, uses Rohit s back-lift to his own advantage. With the bat coming down at an angle, Boult s in-dipper makes Rohit more cautious. We saw that in the Mumbai ODI.

Come to think of it, Rohit will almost certainly wreak havoc if he survives Boult and Southee in the Powerplay.

Ashish Nehra vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar

MSK Prasad had said that Nehra is not a certainty in his farewell T20I. Sunil Gavaskar had expressed his opinion as well, questioning Nehra s place in the playing XI with Bhuvi and Jasprit Bumrah already going great guns. All this may sound fair and square, but Nehra must have spoken to Kohli before revealing that the Delhi T20I will be his last international assignment.

There is more to it. Bhuvi had conceded 92 runs in the final ODI. This will provide Kohli with an excuse (you can always drop a bowler after a performance like that), giving Nehra a thumbs-up for the match (it is now easier to digest the fact). You never know.

India vs New Zealand, 1st T20I at Delhi: New Zealand’s unbeaten streak, other statistical preview
India vs New Zealand, 1st T20I at Delhi: New Zealand’s unbeaten streak, other statistical preview

Kohli vs ?

Kohli was dismissed in all 3 ODIs. Southee had Kohli caught twice but only after he scored a hundred. Colin de Grandhomme managed to induce an edge, restricting Kohli to 29. New Zealand did find a way to outfox Kohli, but only after he bludgeoned 263 runs at a staggering average of 87.6.

Given India have never won a T20I against New Zealand, it will only make Kohli go hard at them.