India’s proud record of staying unbeaten in the last 12 bilateral T20I home series will be tested when the side takes on New Zealand in the third and final match here on Wednesday.
With the scoreline tied at 1-1, both teams will go all out in this series decider.
The atmosphere should be electric, given that a sell-out crowd is expected to pack the massive Narendra Modi Stadium here.
For New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson, who turned out for Gujarat Titans in the IPL last year, this is a return to familiar territory.
“Indian crowds are unmatched. Their love for the game stands out. Even when we get a wicket off a good ball, they clap. It’s the same when we hit a six or four,” Ferguson said in a press conference here on Tuesday.
“For some of our young guys like Ben Lister, to come to the biggest ground in the world is a special feeling. It’s very exciting,” Ferguson said.
It remains to be seen if the pitch is in line with what the Indian team favours. Captain Hardik Pandya was unhappy with the surfaces used in the first two T20Is, where batters struggled to find rhythm.
Recent numbers from the Narendra Modi Stadium do not paint an encouraging picture for batters. The IPL final, held here in May last year, produced a low-scoring affair. It was an all-round performance from Hardik, incidentally, which helped Gujarat Titans edge out Rajasthan Royals.
The last international match played at the venue, an ODI where India defended 265 to win by 96 runs, was no run fest either.
The home team will be concerned about the form of its top-order batters - Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi. Gill has been unable to replicate the tremendous touch he showed in the preceding ODIs. Kishan and Tripathi have looked unconvincing, and have wasted chances to make a mark.
If a change in the eleven is warranted, Mumbai opener Prithvi Shaw could get a look in.
The Indian team, which won the ICC Women’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa a few days ago, will be honoured here before the start of the match.
Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar and BCCI office-bearers will felicitate the team members, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah stated on Twitter.
India: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Suryakumar Yadav (vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, and Prithvi Shaw.
New Zealand: Mitchell Santner (Captain), Finn Allen, Michael
Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Dane Cleaver, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Lockie Ferguson, Ben Lister, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, Michael Rippon, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, and Blair Tickner.
(Match starts at 7 p.m.)