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India, NZ eye series victory

From Roshan Thyagarajan, Chennai, Sep 10, 2012, DHNS:

Dhoni’s men face Kiwis in second T20 amidst weather worries

Indian cricketers Yuvraj Singh (left) and Harbhajan Singh mull a point  during a training session at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Monday. AP

The venue may have changed but the focus remains firm.

After the first T20 international between India and New Zealand was washed out without a ball being bowled at Visakhapatnam, the cricketers arrived here to lock horns on Tuesday for what will decide the fate of the T20 series.

A win for India and they complete a whitewash, so to speak, while a victory for New Zealand would help heal their wounds after a morale-shattering 0-2 loss in the Test series against the hosts.

A win also will help the victorious side to carry some sort of momentum into World T20 in Sri Lanka and that is something each and every cricketer from both the dressing rooms will have his eyes set on.

The rain, however, is threatens to throw team’s plans out of gear. It rained in this coastal city a couple of days ago and has threatened to do so a couple of days since. 

Even if it seemed like rain would stay away on Monday, by evening, overcast conditions gave way to heavy downpour putting big questionmark over the fate of the match. If the match is rained off, both the teams will bank on the warm-up matches in Sri Lanka to get some much-needed game-time before the real test begins.

One of the major attractions for the spectators to throng the stadium will be Yuvraj Singh. The left-hander, who has recovered from cancer, was surprisingly included in the squad for the two T20s against the Kiwis and the World T20 to be held in Sri Lanka from September 18.

The Punjab batsman’s wait to play his first international game since November last continues after the opening match was rained off but how the left-hander would cope with the rigours of an international outing remains to be seen as he takes the field donning the Indian colours on Tuesday evening.

There is a lot riding on the 31-year-old just as much is on Habhajan Singh. The offie has not featured in the squad for over a year and has done precious little in the last edition of the Indian Premier League. His efforts for the English county side Essex didn’t make anyone sit up and take notice either.

India skipper MS Dhoni -- even if he has sorted out most of the team -- has one conundrum: Rohit Sharma or Manoj Tiwary? Tiwary hasn’t done any harm to his cause, making noteworthy contributions in the opportunities he has got while Rohit is riding his luck on the unfulfilled potential. Given the pattern of selections in the past though it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Mumbai lad gets another chance.  

New Zealand are packing their outfit with a bunch of T20 specialists set to take it to their opponents on any given day. Not only that, they also have a 3-0 win record against India in the shortest version.

Even if it doesn’t appear like the most captivating of encounters, given that there is a bigger event coming up in a little over a week, this match should serve as a perfect appetiser.


Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathi Balaji, Ashok Dinda, Piyush Chawla.

New Zealand: Ross Taylor (capt), Brendon McCullum (wk), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira, Kyle Mills, BJ Watling.
Match officials: S Ravi and Vineet Kulkarni. TV umpire: Sudhir Asnani. Reserve umpire: C Shamsuddin. Match referee: Chris Broad.


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