How's this for a meaningless statistic: New Zealand have won all four of their T20 matches against India.

Which makes them favourites for the opening clash in the tournament in Nagpur early tomorrow right? Pull the other one.

New Zealand are capable of producing top class T20 cricket, have won four of their five matches at home this year against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and are in good shape.

India, have won 10 of their 11 T20s this year, pocketing the Asia Cup title along the way and shape among the favourites for the World T20 title.

Advertisement

They don't play much international T20 - New Zealand have played 20 more than their 66 - but the IPL takes precedence in India.

But they can play.

One reason is their brilliant batting ace Virat Kohli. No shrinking violet, the 27-year-old's self belief is massive.

He said yesterday he has had a change of heart in what works for him in the shortest format, and that has been a resounding success.

"I used to think too much about T20, saying maybe I don't have the kind of shots that other people have, so I used to try a lot more," Kohli said.

"I have come to terms with that and now I just go and play on instinct."

He has largely dispensed with reverse sweeps and scoop shots and sticks to more orthodox cricket shots, and plays them superbly well.

"I try to hit the ball in the gaps and get fours rather than sixes which are probably high-risk shots.

"If you are scoring at a strike rate of 160 it doesn't matter whether you hit a four or a six or make it all in ones and twos."

Kohli has scored 352 runs at a strike-rate of 134 in eight T20 matches this year, averaging 117.33.

Throw in batsmen with plenty of crunch in their strokeplay such as Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and captain MS Dhoni and it's clear New Zealand's bowlers need to be on the job.

Good, steady line and length went out the window as a winning bowling philosophy in T20 years ago. Variety in speed of delivery and length are the keys, keeping the batsman guessing. It's not an easy business. As in ODI cricket, it's a batsman's game; just ask the bowlers.

That said, New Zealand are not short of heavy hitters themselves, in the form of Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Corey Anderson, who can be as devastating as India's best.

New Zealand thumped Sri Lanka, but lost a last-over finish to England in their two warmup games, the second of which exposed disturbing signs of a fragility against good spin bowlers in the middle order.

If that's not fixed, New Zealand can probably kiss goodbye to their hopes of their first International Cricket Council world title since 2000 in Kenya.

"We've got to start well but if we continue to develop as we have done previously we'll give ourselves the best chance," veteran offspinner Nathan McCullum, in his last tour for New Zealand, said yesterday.

"The boys are well up for it [playing India at home] and if we can continue our consistency hopefully we'll be there at the back end of the tournament."

New Zealand v India

World T20, Nagpur, from 3am tomorrow NZT

New Zealand:

(from) Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Nathan McCullum, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Mitch McClenaghan, Trent Boult.

India: (from) MS Dhoni (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Ravi Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Hardik Pandya.