Hardik Pandya I AP
WELLINGTON, New Zealand: India and New Zealand both will try to move on from disappointing campaigns at the Twenty20 World Cup in a white-ball series which begins Friday with the first of three T20 internationals at Wellington.
Both teams were beaten in the Cup semifinals in Australia, India by eventual champion England and New Zealand by Pakistan. Those losses ended campaigns which had held much brighter promise.
The New Zealand series of three T20 matches and three one-day internationals allow both teams to immediately move on from those disappointments. Having put the T20 World Cup behind them, both teams already will be looking forward to the 50-over World Cup in India and next year.
New Zealand may have produced an almost perfect game in its opening World Cup clash with Australia in which hard-hitting batting was backed up by aggressive and accurate bowling. But it couldn’t reproduce that performance and has to work now on achieving consistency.
The young opener Finn Allen was New Zealand’s discovery of the tournament and is now established in its lineup to the point the veteran Martin Guptill has been omitted from the series. Allen set the tone in the win over Australia with his 42 from 16 balls but he also struggled to replicate that form.
“Finn’s a very exciting talent,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said at a recent media call. “It’s been great to see him in the side and expressing himself.
“You mentioned that Australian game where he made an amazing contribution and it went a long way in us getting ahead of the game. That’s a real strength of his, it’s natural for him in terms of how he plays.”
Williamson has form issues of his own. His 61 against Ireland was his brightest effort in an otherwise lackluster World Cup. Williamson recently was released by Sunrisers Hyderabad, his Indian Premier League franchise for the past eight seasons.
His recent form struggles have much to do with a chronic elbow injury which recently has affected his availability.
“The elbow is improving,” Williamson said. “It certainly took quite a long time but I’m feeling a lot better now.”
New Zealand has moved on by naming the same lineup it used at the World Cup, except for fast bowler Trent Boult. Boult opted out of central contract with New Zealand Cricket earlier this year and head coach Gary Stead has indicated the selectors will give priority to contracted players.
“We’re all aware of Trent’s world-class ability but at this time, as we build towards more global events, we want to give opportunities and experiences to others,” Stead said.
India has faced a greater backlash than New Zealand for its perceived failure at the World Cup. Much of the criticism has fallen on captain Rohit Sharma has been accused of a timid or “old school” approach to T20 cricket. Calls have been made for former captain M.S. Dhoni to be given an oversight role with the team.
Hardik Pandya will captain India in Rohit’s place in the T20 matches against New Zealand, starting in Wellington on Friday. He acknowledged criticism but said India doesn’t “need to prove anything to anybody.”
“We know there is disappointment with the World Cup but we are professionals and we have to cope with our successes and cope with our failures,” he said. “We have to move forward and look forward to get better. We have to rectify the mistakes we made and ensure that it this series we don’t repeat that.”
Pandya said there are a number of new players in the India squad who would bring “new energy.”
“It’s a new bunch, new guys with a lot of new excitement, new energy so it’s going to be quite exciting," he said. “The next T20 World Cup will be in two years . . . we have time before then and a lot of people will get chances to show what they can do. The road map starts from now.”