Ah s***, here we go again. As if three games weren’t enough, this time around, New Zealand and India will clash against each other in FIVE T20I matches. Yep, are you ready to put yourself through one full week of pain, anguish and distress in return for some anything-but-high-octane entertainment?
While my buddy Aakash is out there somewhere writing about why New Zealand are India’s “nemesis”, I’m gonna cut the bs and convince you to not bother watching this series. Mind you, I was someone who was buzzing when the original schedule was announced. After all, this was going to be India’s first full-fledged tour to Kiwiland in over 5 years and what better way to start it off than playing five gruelling T20s in a World Cup year?
But if my enthusiasm levels for this series 6 months ago was that of an extroverted teenager impatient to hit the streets with his friends, now I’m a Hikikomori who is being forcefully dragged to a social event. You know that party that you force yourself to go to, convincing yourself that you’d have a good time, only to regret your decision to show up, just moments after the event begins? Yeah, New Zealand vs India limited-over matches is going to be that party. The ODI’s can wait, though. Let me just talk about the T20Is for now. I’m assuming that you’d have your own expectations from the series, yeah? Let me have the privilege of snatching, crushing and tossing them into the nearest trashcan.
What will we be expecting?
Runs, runs and more runs: I mean, if you play five matches in four grounds with boundaries smaller than the parking lot that my elementary school had rented back in the day, it’s obvious to expect the runs flow. And given the series has the likes of Rohit, Pant, Guptill and Munro who eat boundaries for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we all have been fantasizing about 250-plus scores already, haven’t we?
A Martin Guptill masterclass: Even as a neutral, there isn’t a better sight than seeing Martin Guptill go absolutely berserk, is there? Especially in these small grounds, where he’s fired many a time, should he get his eye in, the Indian bowlers, bar Bumrah, could be in for an absolute tonking.
Rohit Sharma to break new grounds: Is it fair to say that this will be the best version of Rohit Sharma that’ll be stepping foot in New Zealand? This is a guy whose mishits go for six at the MCG, so how difficult do you think it would be for him to clear the wee Mount Maunganui boundaries? With Rohit and the Kiwi bowlers in completely opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of confidence, it’ll be interesting to see if he’d be aiming for a 150 or a 200 in this series.
A Virat Kohli vs Kane Williamson face-off: Last time around, Virat felt that the T20Is weren’t important enough for him to grace them with his presence, but this time, we’re all set for the VK vs KW showdown. This is probably the last format you’d wanna go see these two go toe-to-toe, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? Run machines are run machines irrespective of the format so it’ll be really interesting to see who ends up outscoring the other. We know Kane oozes class, so could this finally be the series, albeit it being T20s, where he outshines Virat?
What will actually happen
The teams will end up posting sub-par totals: I can almost visualize what’s exactly going to happen: The very first ball of the series will be dispatched for a six and we’ll all be instantly zapped into thinking that we’re gonna have scores between 220-250 for the rest of series. In the end, though, the teams will end up losing wickets at regular intervals, set batsmen will throw their wicket away and the batting team will end up scraping to a mid-160 ish total. Of the five matches, three matches will sure-shot follow this exact same aforementioned pattern and if we’re lucky enough, maybe we’ll see a couple of games where 200-plus scores will be posted.
Guptill will be back to the hut before you switch on the television: Expecting Guptill to fire is like expecting Arsenal to win a match against a Top 6 opposition away from home: even though it’s just happened once since 2015, you somehow watch every match with the hope that it might happen, only to be eventually disappointed by the outcome. To be honest, I would be surprised if Guptill lasts beyond the powerplay in ANY match. I can foresee him being tamed by both Bumrah and Shami with the new ball. He’ll probably either nick one to the keeper, be clean bowled or get caught at third man desperately trying to hoick his way out of trouble.
New Zealand are not big enough for Rohit Sharma to care: We all know Rohit has the ability to end the existence of every single Kiwi bowler right then and there, especially on these small and flat wickets. But you know what’s the bad news (good news, if you’re a Kiwi)? He just won’t care enough. That’s always been the thing with Rohit, hasn’t it? He turns up once in three games and in the other two, he’s a mere passenger. So brace yourself for him to be dismissed cheaply to the likes of Scott Kuggelejin, Hamish Bennett, Daryl Mitchell etc in three or four matches. However, he will definitely have one outstanding, god-like performance. That I can assure you.
Williamson will disappoint us all…..yet again: Don’t even bother expecting Williamson to match Kohli in terms of runs in this series, it’s going to be a no-contest. You thought Williamson was disappointing in the Australia tour? Oh just wait for this one. It’s the numbers that scare me, actually. He averages a tad over 20 against India in T20 cricket and has not scored a single fifty in 8 attempts. With his confidence currently lower than Kedar Jadhav’s bowling arm, I wouldn’t be surprised if these numbers worsen. Do yourself a favour and have no expectations from Williamson, for Kohli is going to decimate him when the series beckons.
What will not happen
Nail-biting, nerve-wracking thrillers: Remember how the series panned out last time around, yeah? It is going to be no different. Don’t be excited if the team batting first scores 225; chances are that the chasing team will fold for 150 and lose the match by 75 runs. Also, don’t even adjudge a pitch as a tough batting wicket when you see the team batting first score 165; you’d be surprised to see the chasing team get those runs in under 17 overs.
Sanju Samson getting a game: Unless and until India go 4-0 up, this ain’t happening. Perhaps Dhawan solved a headache for the team management by getting injured in the nick of time. Now they can go back to opening with Rahul, playing one of Dube or Pandey in the middle-order and erm, benching Sanju Samson.
Breakthrough performances: Had I seen the name of a Glenn Phillips or a Shubman Gill or a Prithvi Shaw, I’d have been excited to see what the youngsters actually do. But Nah, it’s the usual suspects we’ve been seeing day in and day out who are going to take the field. It’s disappointing, indeed, considering this was a five-match series that gave both teams the leeway to experiment. But well, here we are. Best of luck watching a 32-year-old Hamish Bennett make his international comeback.
This will end up as yet another clichéd, inconsequential bilateral series which will serve no purpose to either team. India will not zero in on their final XI nor will they be tested, while New Zealand will be more than happy to just go through the motions and be done with the series. There will be no new talents unearthed nor will the series leave us with memories to cherish. If anything, it’s going to be a replica of the humdrum series that we witnessed last year, albeit with two extra matches added to the same. But in case you’re planning to watch it anyway, brace yourself to be run over by the truck of disappointment.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi