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Will India bring in Ashwin/Thakur against New Zealand?

By HARISH KOTIAN
October 29, 2021 06:27 IST
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IMAGE: India could bring in off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in place of the third seamer, looking at the left-handers in the New Zealand middle order. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
 

Having suffered its first-ever defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan in a World Cup, India will aim to bounce back against New Zealand on Sunday, October 31, 2021.

The team has had enough time to ponder what went wrong against Pakistan during the week-long break before the tough assignment against the Kiwis, who also lost their opening T20 World Cup match to Pakistan.

Both teams are aware that defeat will make their chances of advancing to the semi-finals nearly impossible.

India will also be keen to set their record straight against the Kiwis in ICC tournaments. India's last victory over New Zealand at an ICC tournament came way back at the 2003 World Cup, but have since suffered four defeats in a row -- in the 2007 T20 World Cup, 2016 T20 World Cup, 2019 ODI World Cup semi-final and the 2021 World Test Championship final.

India will have to think about a few changes in their playing eleven after the 10 wicket thrashing to Pakistan.

The batting was a major disappointment; except for Virat Kohli (57) and Rishabh Pant (39) no other batter went past the 30-run mark.

Suryakumar Yadav, preferred ahead of the in-form Ishan Kishan, failed to justify his inclusion, scoring just 11.

Strangely, Hardik Pandya playing as a specialist batsman, was sent in only at No 7 after Ravindra Jadeja. He walked in with 13 balls to spare but failed to get the boundaries at the end, and struggled to score 11 from eights balls.

It is clear that with Hardik not bowling the balance of the Indian team is severely affected, especially if a bowler or two has a bad day. Hardik bowled in the nets on Wednesday and his return could make things a bit easier for the team management.

Against Pakistan, Kohli also made the strange decision to open the bowling with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is low on confidence, instead of attacking straightaway and hunting for wickets with strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah.

Mohammed Rizwan hit Bhuvneshwar for a six and a four in the very first over to set the tone for Pakistan's easy run chase.

Bhuvi struggled with his consistency as he gave away 25 runs in three overs, while Mohammed Shami also had a rare off-day with the ball, conceding 43 runs from 3.5 overs.

It remains to be seen if India bring in Shardul Thakur in place of Bhuvneshwar, given his good showing with the ball for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.

Among the spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin could also get a look-in as both Varun Chakravarthy and Ravindra Jadeja failed to make an impression against Pakistan.

Who do you think should be part of India's playing XI for the World Cup match against New Zealand?

Should India bring in Ashwin and attack New Zealand with spin? Should they include all-rounder Thakur? Should Ishan Kishan make a comeback in Suryakumar's place?

Please pick your India XI by clicking on the boxes below:

My India XI: Rohit Sharma, K L Rahul, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin/Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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