Kolkata: With the three-match T20I series already in India’s pocket, the hosts may look to test some reserve players while aiming for a 3-0 finish over New Zealand at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday. India have already gained an unassailable lead after claiming a seven-wicket victory in the second T20I in Ranchi on Friday. For New Zealand, it will be a chance of signing off from the series on a high before shifting focus to the two-match Test series.
Rohit Sharma’s first series as the T20I captain has panned out like a perfect script. Winning the toss and contributing to successful chases in Jaipur and Ranchi must have pleased him. He would be looking to do the same at Kolkata before going off on a break.
At the same time, he would be thinking of trying the reserve players, who didn’t get to be a part of the playing eleven in both matches of the series.
Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, who debuted on the white-ball tour to Sri Lanka in July and was the orange cap winner when Chennai Super Kings won IPL 2021, will be eager to get a run with the bat. Same goes for Avesh Khan, who took 24 wickets for Delhi Capitals and was the second-highest wicket-taker behind India’s latest debutant, Harshal Patel.
Then there’s Ishan Kishan and Yuzvendra Chahal, who could get some game time if first-choice players are given rest. One can expect Venkatesh Iyer to be given a go with the ball to showcase his medium-pace skills.
For New Zealand, a tight schedule after playing the T20 World Cup final meant that the players looked a little exhausted. It resulted in the batting order unable to overcome the squeeze put on by the Indian bowling attack on both occasions in the series.
If it was in the last five overs in Jaipur, New Zealand squandered the flying start in power-play at Ranchi.
Leading the strangulation job from the front has been ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. With figures of 2/23 and 1/19 from two matches, Ashwin has reinforced his credentials in being an effective white-ball bowler.
With the pitch at Eden Gardens expected to be a batting paradise despite the possibility of it offering a lot for the pacers as well as spinners and dew coming into the equation yet again, expect the script to continue the same way as it has been in the first two matches.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Deepak Chahar, Avesh Khan, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan.
New Zealand: Tim Southee (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wicketkeeper) and Ish Sodhi.