Indian Cricket

India vs NZ 2021: Ideal First-choice Playing 11 for T20I Series

India vs NZ: Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to open as we look at the ideal first-choice playing 11 for Team India for the T20I series. 

It feels like yesterday when Team India were officially knocked out of the T20 World Cup 2021 after suffering humiliating defeats against Pakistan and New Zealand. While that assignment only just ended, India will now be playing NZ for yet another bilateral T20I series – just 2 days after the World Cup final. 

Given the T20I series is followed by the Test series, India are resting a lot of senior Indian players. The likes of Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, etc., have been rested. While Virat Kohli has resigned from the T20I Captaincy, Rohit Sharma has taken over from him with KL Rahul being his deputy. 

Overall, the T20I series doesn’t hold much significance apart from the monetary benefits, but it does give an opportunity to a lot of young Indian players that are selected in the Indian team for the first time. The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, and Venkatesh Iyer are selected purely basis their IPL 2021 performance. 

Having said that, the 3-match T20I series shall see a lot of new Indian players making their debut for Team India. So, what could be the ideal first-choice playing 11 for the 2021 India vs NZ T20I series? Let’s find out in this article. Before that, let’s quickly skim through our official squad for the T20I series. 

India vs New Zealand 2021 – Official T20I Series Squad for Team India 

Batsmen: Ishan Kishan (WK), KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (WK), Rohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer & Suryakumar Yadav

All-rounders: Axar Patel & Venkatesh Iyer

Bowlers: Avesh Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Ravichandran Ashwin & Yuzvendra Chahal

Openers: Rohit Sharma & KL Rahul

Team India decided not to rest their primary all-format openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul for the T20I series given it is their new start with the captaincy stint. This means Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will continue as openers for the initial couple of matches at least. If India win both the matches, backup openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan can be given a chance. 

Middle-order: Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav & Rishabh Pant (WK)

The middle-order shall see the re-entry of Team India’s long-time number 4, Shreyas Iyer. With Virat Kohli not there, Team India can look to play Shreyas Iyer or Suryakumar Yadav at number 3. As a like-for-like replacement, Shreyas Iyer seems the right man to replace Virat Kohli for the number 3. This shall give Suryakumar Yadav and Rishabh Pant the finishing duties. 

Rishabh Pant shall without a doubt start as Team’s leading wicket-keeper.  He should most probably bat at number 5, but as seen from the recent matches, the numbers 3 to 5 shall have a flexible batting order with either of Pant, SKY, or Iyer playing at 3 depending on the situation of the game. 

All-rounder: Venkatesh Iyer

Team India decided to rest their two primary all-rounders, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja. Instead, Team India selected the promising Venkatesh Iyer and old foe, Axar Patel. While Venkatesh Iyer played as an opener in IPL 2021, it would be difficult for him to play as an opener for Team India. 

As a like-for-like replacement for Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer may be used as a finisher. Apart from his temperamental batting, Venkatesh is also a useful medium-pacer with good control over his line and length. With more experience, Venkatesh can rightfully be the alternative for Hardik Pandya that we had been looking for. 

Spinners: Ravichandran Ashwin & Yuzvendra Chahal

Ravichandran Ashwin looked impressive in the three matches he played in the T20 World Cup. Hence, he should continue playing for the first two matches at least. There could be a toss up between Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal for the second spinner spot, but with Yuzi back in the team, it would only be wise to include him in the playing 11.

However, including Chahal does make Team India’s lower order thin with Ashwin batting at 7. But with good lower-order batsmen like Harshal Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to follow, Team India can take this gamble. Surprisingly, India are without the services of Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy; the spinners that played in the World Cup. 

Pacers: Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Avesh Khan

In the absence of Team India’s three first-choice pacers, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Shardul Thakur, a new pace bowling trio shall be seen. Given the variety of options, experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar alongside young Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan seems the best bet. While Avesh Khan is an all-situation bowler, Harshal is fantastic for death overs. Whereas Bhuvi is a fantastic bowler in the powerplay and death overs. 

So, that completes the ideal first-choice playing 11 for Team India for the T20I series vs New Zealand. Overall, except for a few names in the bowling department, the batting department looks confirmed. India and Rohit Sharma would be eager to begin a new phase of Team India under the inspirational leadership of Rahul Dravid. 

India vs NZ 2021 – Best Playing 11 for Team India for T20I Series:

Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul (VC), Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (WK), Venkatesh Iyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan & Yuzvendra Chahal.  

Thanks for reading! What’s your playing 11 for Team India for the 2021 T20I series vs New Zealand? Please email your thoughts to

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