After one false start, anxious New Zealand glances will be cast to the Chennai skies later tonight as they seek an overdue kickstart to their World Twenty20 campaign.
The Black Caps fancy their semifinal chances in the Sri Lanka tournament in their favourite cricketing format, starting next week, but the volatile Indian weather could put a dent in their buildup.
Sunday's opener in Visakhapatnam was washed out and Chennai, venue for the second and final match, offers 35-degree Celsius temperatures and evening thunderstorms this time of year. A second successive washout would send New Zealand straight to Colombo for warmup matches against Australia on Saturday and South Africa on Monday, before their group D opener against Bangladesh next Thursday.
New Zealand are ranked seventh in the world to India's fifth in T20, and have Martin Guptill (second) and Brendon McCullum (fifth) high in the world batting rankings. India's Suresh Raina (third) is the only Indian batsman in the top 10.
"If you look at the experience we've got and some of the destructiveness we have within our lineup with both bat and ball, it [T20] does suit us," McCullum said.
New Zealand are 3-0 against India in T20 cricket but the last match was on home soil in 2009.
They haven't met in India, where the hosts now feed off a regular diet of the Indian Premier League, where McCullum, Ross Taylor, James Franklin and Daniel Vettori are the Black Caps' regulars in the lucrative T20 tournament.
McCullum knows what to expect in Chennai if the rain stays away. "I played here a lot and it's predominantly a turning track which is great for us.
"It's a good opportunity to test our skills against some quality spinners and we're quite strong in the spin department as well."
Newcomers to the squad from the 2-0 test series defeat are Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Kyle Mills, Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira and Adam Milne.
India (from): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni (c), Irfan Pathan, Piyush Chawla, Ravi Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashok Dinda.
New Zealand (from): Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor (c), Rob Nicol, Kane Williamson, James Franklin, B J Watling, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Ronnie Hira.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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