January 29: New Zealand v India 3rd T20I, Hamilton
Our XI: KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Shreyas Iyer, Colin Munro, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Tim Southee, Mohammed Shami
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates
Captain: KL Rahul
You have to have done something special to be the first pick in a fantasy team ahead of Virat Kohli. And Rahul qualifies handsomely. Since the start of India’s post-World Cup season, Rahul has batted 11 times in T20Is, and never been dismissed for single figures. His run of scores reads 20, 15, 8*, 52, 62, 11, 91, 45, 54, 56, 57*. In addition, he’s keeping wickets too.
Vice-captain: Jasprit Bumrah
No Kohli as captain or vice-captain? Heresy? Too big a risk? Yes, not quite, and possibly. He doesn’t – yet – have the wickets to show, but Bumrah has been the standout bowler in the series so far, and there is no reason to think he won’t continue to be that way in the third T20I. Bumrah will net you a respectable number of points most days. On the days when all the stars align, he’ll net you a bounty.
Kohli has been solid, but hasn’t quite exploded. But it’s Kohli, and the last time he was out of form was about a million runs ago. Second, he’s been among the runs in the shortest format coming into this tour. Third, even if he doesn’t play a match-winning innings, it’s a rare day that Kohli doesn’t contribute some runs at least. A T20I average of 51.79 is enough proof.
Two matches, two valuable hands. Iyer has blossomed into an indispensable player in the Indian line-up, and responded beautifully to the faith put in him by the team management. He was Man of the Match in the first T20I, and first among the batting support cast in the second match.
So far, Guptill has had good starts, and he’s been stroking the ball freely too, as a strike rate of 161.53 indicates. He has gotten out when looking set for a big innings, and if he can pull through, he’s likely to end up with a sizeable score.
Ravindra Jadeja: Remarkably, in the two T20Is so far, Jadeja has been the bowler with the best economy rate, going at a run a ball. That he has done so at Eden Park, with its short boundaries where spinners can be punished, shows how well he has bowled. Jadeja’s utility value is unmatched, and he’s one of the few players in world cricket who can make game-changing contributions with the bat, the ball, and in the field.
Colin Munro: He’s made runs in both matches, though perhaps not as quickly as he would have liked. But his naturally aggressive game and spot at the top of the order make Munro good value in your team.
Points to note
The last time India and New Zealand played here, a year ago, both teams scored more than 200. In general, totals have tended to be on the higher side, so you might want to tilt towards batsmen.
As for bowlers, since the start of 2019, quicks have averaged 19.74 while conceding runs at 8.30 at Seddon Park, and the corresponding figures for spinners are 29.03 and 8.67, which is why a Tim Southee makes it into the XI ahead of a Yuzvendra Chahal or Ish Sodhi.
Do check what the pitch report and conditions look like before the game and take a call on possibly swapping a pacer out for a spinner if warranted.