After dominating New Zealand in the ODI series, Team India are all set to take on the Kiwis in a three-match T20I series, starting on Friday (January 27) in Ranchi.
On the eve of the opening T20I, India skipper Hardik Pandya addressed a press conference, where he confirmed that in-form Shubman Gill will open the batting ahead of Prithvi Shaw, who has made a comeback to the national side.
Gill recently had a sensational run in ODIs against Sri Lanka and New Zealand at home, registering scores of 70, 21, 116, 208, 40* and 112 over six innings. Ishan Kishan is expected to partner Shubman at the top of the order.
"Shubman has done well and will start the series. The way he is batting and was already in the team," said Hardik in the pre-match presser.
Pandya, who bowled with the new ball in the T20Is against Sri Lanka and the third ODI versus New Zealand, said he likes performing this role for the team.
"I have always enjoyed bowling with the new ball. Since quite a number of years whenever I bowl in the nets, I pick the new ball. I am used to the old ball so that I don't feel the need to practice with the old ball as much. It has helped in match situations.
"With our two main bowlers rested in the last game, I had to be ready. But (it) has never been about pressure, half of the times pressure is gone if you prepare well," said Hardik.
On Thursday (January 26), the legendary MS Dhoni came for a surprise visit at the training session of the Indian team and interacted with Hardik Pandya and his men.
"Mahi bhai is here which is good as we get to meet him. We can get out of the hotel also (to meet him). Otherwise, the way we have played in the last one month, it has just been hotel to hotel.
"And when we meet we try to talk about life rather than the game. When we played together I learnt a lot from him. I have squeezed a lot out of him (knowledge)... there is not much left," said Hardik.
While the Indian T20I captain didn’t reveal whether Jitesh Sharma will be included in the playing XI or not, he said that the wicketkeeper-batter has been rewarded for his performances in the IPL and domestic cricket.
Notably, Jitesh earned his maiden India call-up after Sanju Samson sustained a knee injury in the first T20I against Sri Lanka earlier this month.
"Our strategy will be seen on the ground. Jitesh has been rewarded for his performances. Unfortunately, Sanju Samson got injured and Jitesh got the opportunity.
"We will try to win obviously. New Zealand is a good team both in T20Is and ODIs. They always challenge you. We will have to be at their best to beat them," Hardik stated.
(With PTI Inputs)