With a little less than 12 hours prior to the first India vs New Zealand T20I in Jaipur, head coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma addressed their first press conference together. They answered questions on a range of topics and one of them included talking about their opponents New Zealand and the reputation they hold.
The Black Caps, the 'nice guys of cricket', are often considered the 'underdogs'. The term has been in existence for so long now, despite the side winning WTC 2021 and finishing runners-up in the 2015 and 2019 50-over World Cups, 2021 T20 World Cup, that it has ended up becoming a "fashionable" statement; one far from reality.
Speaking on the topic, India's new head coach Dravid has stated that the narrative has changed over the last few years and that every team competing against them know how big a team they are.
"New Zealand is a very good side, make no mistake about it. Their performance over the last few years has been exceptional, I think it has become fashionable to call them underdogs in every tournament but honestly, I think the narrative has changed, they enter the tournament, from outside point, they would be underdog but I am sure internally teams which compete against them, know they are going to be a top contender in any tournament they play in," said Dravid.
He added: "New Zealand is well led and they are well prepared. They have beaten India in recent tournaments, this is a fact. But here lies a good opportunity for us to keep getting better and hopefully, we get an opportunity against them in a big tournament, we put one over them."
The two sides will be without their talismans Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson as both the modern-day greats have decided to take a break from this format and return for the Test series. Moreover, this will be the teams' second meeting in less than 3 weeks. They last met in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup with the Kiwis winning the contest by eight wickets.