Heartthrobs NZ brace up to battle heavyweights India

Martin Guptill of New Zealand plays a shot during the first Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on January 7, 2016. AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP / MICHAEL BRADLEY (Photo credit should read MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

The tournament proper is upon us. Its name – Super 10s – says big billing. Its first match caters to the same. India are the heavyweights. New Zealand are the heartthrobs. Considering the World T20 began with fingers dangled at the organisers for their ticketing strategy and the collective anger of the Associates over an unforgiving qualifying round, a blockbuster match between two Full Members at a jam-packed Jamtha cannot arrive sooner.
A slice of the hype went missing last December when Brendon McCullum announced his retirement from international cricket. In his stead comes Colin Munro, who has hit the most sixes in a first-class innings and struck New Zealand’s fastest T20 fifty. With Munro, though, comes an asterisk. He has batted only five times in India. Munro managed 19 and 6 for Auckland in the Champions League T20 in 2011 and later made 1,4,1 for New Zealand A against India A in 2013.
Very few from New Zealand’s squad have played T20 cricket in Indian conditions. Thirteen of them have played less than 15 games in the country, and the man with the most experience – Ross Taylor, with 46 matches – is coming back after injury.
India, on the other hand, have gone on record to say they are on “auto-pilot” in the shortest format thanks to the exposure from the IPL. Their top order is perhaps the strongest in the tournament and you would think with Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya lower down, there is enough of a failsafe should things go wrong. It has worked so far. India have won 10 out of 11 T20I matches since the start of the year.