Hosts India look to start WT20 campaign on a positive note.© Getty Images
Hosts India look to start WT20 campaign on a positive note.© Getty Images

ICC T20 World Cup 2016 gets into the Super-10 stage from Tuesday. Hosts India will be locking horns against New Zealand in the first match which will take place at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium Nagpur. After playing the warm-up matches, both teams will be looking to get off to a winning start in the tournament. India, who have been termed ‘favourites’ because of their knowledge of home conditions and the fact that they have played some excellent cricket over the last few months, especially in the shortest format of the game, will also be backed by the home crowd. They will need it more because of their poor record against the Black Caps in the T20 format. Read Full Match Scorecard: India vs New Zealand , Live Score, 13th T20 Match, Super 10 Group 2, ICC T20 World Cup 2016

Right from the first T20I contest between India and New Zealand, during the inaugural edition of the World T20 in South Africa, India have never managed a win against the Kiwis. Call it poor performance, too many mistakes or sheer bad luck, the results have not been in India’s favour. Among all the T20I matches played between them, the Men–in- Blue lost the first one by a margin of 10 runs thanks to some impressive bowling by Daniel Vettori taking figures of 4 for 20 and turning the match in favour of the Kiwis. The second was part of a two-match T20I series in 2009, which India subsequently lost 0-2. The first match of that series was an easy win by 7 wickets for New Zealand in Christchurch; the next, a closer encounter, as the match went down to the last ball. The Kiwis chased down 150 and beat India, this time by 5 wickets. Then, in 2012, New Zealand toured India, and were supposed to play two T20Is. The first was a wash-out, the next another thriller, but yet again India could not cross the line. Virat Kohli’s brilliant knock of 70 was not enough as the hosts lost by a run. Also Read: India vs New Zealand T20 World Cup 2016 match at Nagpur: Likely XI for Black Caps

That was 2012. Four years have passed since. Both sides have undergone numerous changes. India, especially, have made immense improvements. An in-form top-order that has gone from strength to strength equipped with strong and powerful middle-order batsman with mighty abilities, represent India’s batting prowess. With sufficient knowledge and awareness of home conditions along with skill and class India‘s batting eye the trophy in the shorter format now.

They are backed by a potent spin- attack, and finally, a pair of seamers who can take wickets in the initial overs as well as curb the opposition strokeplay in the end. And finally, India’s genuine limited-over all-rounder — a seamer who can bowl his quota of overs and get wickets every now and then and a batsman who hits the ball as hard as anyone in the world — has arrived in the form of Hardik Pandya.

India’s improvement in T20Is over the last few months has not stopped there. The way the team has gone about their business on and off-field has been absorbing to watch for critics and fans. The team looks more spirited than ever, and the cricketers are ready to take up responsibility and roles that they have been given. Whether it is Kohli or Jasprit Bumrah, none of the players have shied away from taking centre stage., which is where Team India has upgraded itself the most. One should not forget MS Dhoni, who has led from the front: it has taken time after the retirement of multiple superstars, but Dhoni has built a side, of which he can be proud.

New Zealand will sorely miss Brendon McCullum, the man who could have been the most important deciding factor. Despite the presence of Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, McCullum will be missed sorely, more so because of his exposure to IPL.

When India face New Zealand in their first Super-10 match of the T20 World Cup 2016, history is not likely to make a difference. Given the conditions the Indians are a better side on paper. All they need to do is to go out and give it their best. Even if records and streaks matter, they are always meant to be broken.