Daijiworld Media Network
Chennai, Sep 10 : Before I welcome you all to the coverage of this game, let me start with some good news: it is not raining in Chennai, and it looks like we will have a game today! Yes, that means we'll finally get to see the man we've all been waiting for - Yuvraj Singh - back in action. There is another Singh too, by name Harbhajan, who will be eager to make a contribution in his comeback game. The focus on the individuals has shifted the attention from the game itself; this is the only T20 game the 2 teams will play before the big tournament - the World T20.
The G, H and I stands at the Chepauk stadium will not be used for this game. The problem persisted throughout the IPL (the final was an exception) and continues till date. That's sad news for the fans in Chennai and for those watching on TV as well.
Who will open for India today? Will it be Kohli, or Rohit? Or maybe Tiwary?
Quite a surprise to see Harbhajan dropped. I thought they would test the 2-off spinner game-plan before the World Cup, but that's the way it goes. All eyes on the other Singh though - Yuvraj!
Pitch report: Typical Chennai pitch. There is a tinge of green at the start of the pitch but the middle region is different. There are some dry areas and some cracks, which will help the spinners. It'll be good for batting and the spinners will enjoy bowling as well.
India have won the toss and elected to field
Dhoni: We'll bowl first. Looks like a good wicket and it will remain the same. It's good practice but it's an international game and not a warm up, so we have to be at our best. We have a good fielding side. Viru is not fit. Harbhajan, Piyush and Dinda are not playing as well.
Taylor: We've only played 3 games against India, this is our first T20 game against them here. We have the likes of Mills and Vettori who have some experience. Oram is playing as well, there are quite a few guys who have flown in for this game and they're playing.
New Zealand (Playing XI): Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum(w), Ross Taylor(c), Kane Williamson, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills, Ronnie Hira, Adam Milne
India (Playing XI): Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni(w/c), Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Zaheer Khan
Match preview :
Yuvraj Singh was the story at Visakhapatnam, a capacity crowd had thronged inside the stadium in the anticipation of two major milestones. Visakhapatnam was hosting its first ever T20I match and it was to be a special match as well as born again Indian batsman, Yuvraj Singh was expected to start his second innings on the cricket field. The weather gods though had different ideas as torrential rain meant that the match was a non-starter. The two teams have now moved further south to Chennai but the rain clouds seem to have followed them as well. Will there be a match in Chennai? Will Yuvraj and Harbhajan make their comeback into international cricket? Will the two teams get some reasonable practice before the T20I cup?
The washout at Vizag meant that both teams were robbed of some meaningful workout in an actual match situation. There is no room left for any sort of experimentation as both teams might enter the park on Tuesday with their best possible combinations. India will be back with their tried and trusted opening combination of Sehwag and Gambhir, the middle order looks strong with the presence of a set of personnel who are well equipped to handle the pressure situations of a T20 match. Ashwin will be playing in his home-ground, an incentive perhaps to be included ahead of Harbhajan Singh. Balaji attended the customary pre-match press conference from the Indian side but was not committal about the team combination.
Despite the losses in both Test matches, New Zealand are a difficult opposition in the shorter formats of the game. Their combination of several bits and pieces players comes in handy in such scenarios. The IPL has meant that most of the Kiwis have a fair idea about the pitches and the conditions of the grounds. Another positive is the return of form of Jacob Oram, on his day the mighty Jake is a difficult customer to deal with. With plenty of depth in both batting as well as in bowling units, the Kiwis have in them to go a long way towards achieving victory.
Both teams will be hungry to show their wares on the park, but it is the weather god that might have the final say. There has been showers on most of the days leading up to the match but the forecast looks good on the match day. Both teams and the people in Chennai will be hoping that it stays so.
India will be sweating about their bowling combinations. Will Ashwin edge out Harbhajan in the likely scenario of just one spinner playing? If India opt for 5 bowlers, it will mean that Rohit Sharma might have to warm the benches.
Daniel Vettori will be back for New Zealand after recovering from an injury which saw him miss the Tests.
Trivia and Stats:
Chennai will host its first ever T20I match.
Daniel Vettori needs just 2 more wickets to become the leading wicket taker for New Zealand in T20I matches.
New Zealand have never lost a T20I match against India. They have won three of the four matches played with one washed out.
The long lay-off did not rust my skills in any way. It's been a competitive three years in IPL and Ranji Trophy as well as some other first-class matches - Lakshmipathi Balaji is confident about his skills.
It's unfortunate that the match got washed out a couple of nights ago. It's disappointing ahead of a major tournament. It would've been good to play against a quality team in India - Kyle Mills feels that winning against India will provide momentum.