Here's a statistic to bolster New Zealand's self belief ahead of their opening T20 against India early tomorrow: they've never been beaten by their hosts in the shortest international form.

Okay, they've only met three times, the most recent in February 2009, but after events of the last couple of months New Zealand's players probably need something to give them a fillip.

Notwithstanding an improved effort in the second test at Bangalore, it was still a five-wicket loss, which means New Zealand have lost their last four tests and have won just a solitary ODI out of their last 11 international assignments.

It's all pretty grim reading, but this is the form of the game in which they most fancy their chances of duelling toe to toe with any country.


Not so long ago New Zealand were sitting second on the T20 rankings.

That's a fast-receding memory, courtesy of tossing away what should have been a series victory over South Africa, then getting dumped by the West Indies. They're now seventh, two spots lower than their hosts.

Now they have four matches to prepare for the T20 world championship starting in Sri Lanka on September 18 - two against the Indians and two in Sri Lanka against Australia and South Africa.

"We've got four really strong games before the major event starts, and a little bit of form and consistency would be nice," said experienced seamer Kyle Mills yesterday.

Mills, who with fellow veteran Jacob Oram has joined the New Zealand squad from a stint in the Sri Lankan Premier League T20 (where Oram made the tournament XI and helped the oddly-named Uva Next to the title), appreciates the value to be derived by maintaining that 100 per cent record against India before arriving in Sri Lanka.

The T20 squad also includes batsman Rob Nicol, left arm spinner Ronnie Hira and young quick Adam Milne to add an extra few kilometres to New Zealand's pace bowling options.

The bowlers generally did their bit during the two test losses; once again the batsmen failed to do theirs. The mindset now changes for them and Martin Guptill hopes to see a positive spinoff.

"It is more of an aggressive mindset. T20 is more about fours and sixes than the patience of the test game," said the Auckland top order batsman.

"Everyone is looking forward to that and with our batting order there's a lot of aggressive players there and we could prosper in this series."

Guptill sits second on the world rankings for T20 batsmen, behind England's Eion Morgan. Brendon McCullum is at No 5.

None of India's squad is among the top 10 in batting or bowling. There are reasons why New Zealand should fancy their chances, despite the evidence of the last few weeks.

India welcome back burly lefthander Yuvraj Singh, who has overcome a bout of cancer and the game seems sure to be an emotionally-charged occasion in the city on India's southeast coast, considering that not long ago Yuvraj could not walk up a flight of stairs.

"I can't wait for the day," Yuvraj said.

"I am just raring to get on the field and bat. It is like a child who has got his first Christmas gift and can't wait to open it."

India v New Zealand
Visakhapatnam, 2.30am tomorrow

India (from): MS Dhoni (c), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Manoj Tiwary, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ravi Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Laxshmipathy Balaji.

New Zealand (from): Ross Taylor (c), Brendon McCullum, Rob Nicol, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, James Franklin, BJ Watling, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori, Kyle Mills, Ronnie Hira, Tim Southee, Adam Milne.