New Zealand’s depth will be tested in the T20I series against India, but Ross Taylor sees it as a good chance for fringe players to stake a claim for spots in the World Cup squad later this year.
The five-match series, part of a full tour by India, which also includes three ODIs and two Tests, begins in Auckland on Friday with New Zealand shorn of two key bowlers – Trent Boult (hand injury) and Lockie Ferguson (calf injury) – who will certainly be part of the T20 World Cup if fit.
A number of other seamers who could have been in the frame – Matt Henry, Seth Rance, Doug Bracewell and Adam Milne – are also nursing injuries, meaning the T20I squad will lean heavily on the experience of Tim Southee along with spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.
New Zealand’s most recent T20I series saw them lose 3-2 against England at the beginning of the season – with the deciding match going down to a Super Over – and after the visit by India they will finish the summer with three more matches at home against Australia.
“Probably right from the Sri Lanka series and England the focus has been on the World Cup,” Taylor said. “It will be different conditions in Australia but getting those combinations, trying a few different guys out, obviously a few injuries as well which changes the dynamic of the side, but tests the depth out and gives guys opportunities which bodes well for competition for spots.”
While the upcoming series on home soil are a key part of New Zealand’s preparations for the tournament later this year – an event where they have never gone deeper than the semi-finals – Taylor believes there will have to be adjustments made for the conditions across the Tasman in October.
“It’s the first time a T20 World Cup is there and you watch the Big Bash, there are big boundaries so you are going to have to skin the cat differently than how you play in New Zealand and other parts of the world,” he said.
Kane Williamson, who missed the series against England with a hip problem, has returned to captain the team. New Zealand have won four out of the five T20Is they have played at home against India, including a 2-1 series win last year.
Taylor is also confident that New Zealand will be able to put up a better showing in the two Tests that conclude the tour than they managed in Australia, were they were beaten 3-0 with heavy margins in all the games.
“It didn’t go as we would have liked, we were completely outplayed in all three facets of the game,” he said. “Now we are back on home soil, India will be totally different opposition, No. 1 team in the world but in conditions we know.”