1st T20I India vs New Zealand: After the Men in Blue displayed a clinical show in the five-match ODI series by clinching it 4-1, it is time for the shortest format of them all. Rohit Sharma will lead the Indian team in a three-match T20I series that may see both the teams try out new combination and permutation. One feels with Dhoni aging, he needs to be rested at the right time to ensure he does not burn out. The 37-year-old legend has been playing non-stop limited overs cricket and it seems time that he gets benched and young Rishabh Pant gets a look in. It will not only help the young wicketkeeper-batsman grow but also help him work with Dhoni in the dressing room.

Shubman Gill got his chances in the ODI series, but one feels he is still a little rusty ad only more game time will help him mature and if selectors are looking at him as the future then it is worth persisting with him as Kohli is not there. The young batsman will learn from his failures and emerge as a better bat.

So, what should be India’s top seven?

Stick with the regular openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. Pant is acquainted with playing up in the batting order in T20 cricket, he is comfortable in there, hence he should play No 3. Pant could be followed by young Gill. With Dhoni not playing, Karthik could play the floaters role and provide solidity in the middle-overs. Both the Pandya brothers could be played.

Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya.

The bowlers for India could be Mohammed Shami, he is in the middle of a great run and more game time will help him. Chahal and Kuldeep could be the spinners along with Krunal. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is phenomenal in the shortest version and should be in the XI.

1st T20I: February 6 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Toss at 12:00 PM IST, start at 12.30 PM IST.

India’s predicted XI:

Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav.

New Zealand Squad: Kane Williamson(c), Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, James Neesham