New Zealand’s cricketers have the chance to secure an impressive series win as they face India in Auckland. Having been hammered 4-1 in the preceding one-day series, the Black Caps will be keen for a measure of revenge in the shorter version of the sport, and their 80-run win in Wellington has home fans holding out some hope. Nothing will come easy here for Gary Stead’s men – India are ranked second in the world in this form of the game and were stung by Tuesday’s loss. However, the hosts will feel confident that if Tim Siefert has another good innings with the bat, they can take an unassailable 2-0 lead in this three-match series.
India, for their part, will be looking at the rankings table and seeing a lot of reasons they need to win this match. Not only are they favourites – with New Zealand a relatively lowly sixth in the world in this form of the game – but they could really do with the win to stop neighbours and rivals Pakistan from opening up too wide a gap at the top of the rankings.
Blue Tigers Seek Early Wicket
MS Dhoni and co. will be agreed on one thing above all others coming into this match – they cannot allow the opposition to put on as many runs for the first wicket as was the case in Wellington. More than eight overs had elapsed before they knocked over Colin Munro in the first series game, time enough for Munro and Siefert to run up a score of 86. That stretch proved pivotal in the end, as India were only able to establish 18 before losing Rohit Sharma to a careless shot on the 14th ball of their reply.
India, among the best exponents of this sport in all its forms, will have the twin goals of building their opening partnership and shortening the opposition’s. As such, 888’s odds of ⅘ on the visitors to have the highest-scoring partnership look worth backing. Sharma, who has been captaining the T20 side with no little success recently, will be particularly set on sticking around to make amends for his embarrassment in New Zealand’s capital. If nothing else, he’ll want to make sure that Shikhar Dhawan, who ripped a 29 off 18 balls last time out, has a reliable partner at the crease.
A High-Scoring Match In Prospect?
The pitch at Auckland’s Eden Park certainly favours batting over bowling, and there is an excellent chance for both teams to put on a few runs here. Batting on his home track, New Zealand opener Colin Munro has an Under/Over of 23.5
with William Hill and others. Given that Munro has a career T20 strike rate of 162.02 – the second-best rate in the history of this form of the game – our Bet of the Day is for him to beat the spread. He’s ⅚ to do so, and we can see him comfortably passing it.
Indeed, Munro is broadly rated between 5/2 and 3/1 to score a fifty in this game. While he’s facing an Indian attack that’s better than most in world cricket, it may well be worth getting on him to make at least a half-century. Alternatively, you can find much the same price on his teammate Kane Williamson, or 9/4 on Sharma – who has fifteen career 50s – to exploit the drop-in pitch at Eden Park. Siefert, whose knock in the previous match was the top score on the day, is available at similar prices – but you’re best sticking with the more explosive batsmen on this occasion, and this pitch.
India Favourites To Level The Series
The odds for this match point heavily towards India levelling the series. That’s understandable – they’re traditionally the better side in this form of cricket, and indeed in all others. With that said, let’s not forget that T20 is the form of cricket most prone to the odds being upset. With New Zealand having a pretty handy top-order batting line-up, there’s every chance they could rattle off a decent score – and the presence of bowlers such as Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi means they could take an early wicket or two, too.
If you think New Zealand will take the second match, and with it the series, then you’ll find odds of 11/10 pretty much anywhere, which might be a very good value bet. If you want to back India, then you’re not going to find them at anything other than odds-on. As we’re predicting that the visitors will win this one and level the series, we’d look first at Ladbrokes who have better odds than the pack, offering 8/11 on Sharma and friends to take the win here. Elsewhere, they’re generally 7/10 or worse.
Bet of the Day:
Colin Munro to score more than 23.5 (William Hill, ⅚); India to win (8/11, Ladbrokes); India to have highest-scoring partnership (888, ⅘)