New Zealand has always been a country that's punched above its weight. Its population is just over four million and yet they keep producing world class cricketers.
On paper, they seem to be a weaker side than India but in reality the Kiwis have won all the four T20Is they have contested against India. India and New Zealand have played just one match in the World Twenty20 and the Black Caps have emerged victorious.
Even though New Zealand are weakened by the retirement of Brendon McCullum, fans can expect a mouth-watering contest when the two teams clash in the first match of the main draw of the tournament at Nagpur. With the contest nearing close, we take a look at three of the most exciting encounters between the two teams in T20Is.
India vs New Zealand, ICC World Twenty20, New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, 16th September 2007
MS Dhoni's decision to bowl first seemed correct as India got an early breakthrough. However the departure of Lou Vincent made no effect as Brendon McCullum went after the bowling.
New Zealand continued to take advantage of the powerplay as McCullum belted the Indian pacers all round the park. Harbhajan Singh provided a much needed breakthrough as McCullum departed. At the end of 15 overs, New Zealand were 112/5 and India looked like keeping the total to manageable proportions.
However, a late surge saw New Zealand plunder runs as Jacob Oram joined the party. To make things worse, McMillan and Oram smacked Sreesanth for a hat-trick of sixes. Although New Zealand lost four wickets in the last over, the damage was already done as the Kiwis posted a mammoth 190 runs on board.
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir got India off to a blazing start replicating what the New Zealand openers had done. They scored 76 in 5.5 overs when Sehwag was caught by Scott Styris off the bowling of Oram for 40.
At the end of 10 overs, India were 96/2 with Gambhir and Dhoni at the crease. The introduction of Daniel Vettori changed the complexion of the game as he scalped four wickets.
The Indian tail tried to make a match of it but they finished on 180/9 and lost by 10 runs. Vettori was adjudged the Man of the Match for his inspired bowling spell.
New Zealand vs India, 2nd T20I, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 27th February 2009
Asked to bat first, India got off to a slow start and were soon reduced to 47/3 when skipper Dhoni joined Yuvraj Singh at the crease.
Yuvraj was dropped by Neil Broom of the bowling of Ian Butler, which was a welcome respite for India. Dhoni took his time to get going and played an uncharacteristic slow innings.
Yuvraj however gave the innings some momentum by finding the ropes and soon reached his fifty. Just when India wanted Yuvraj to carry on the carnage, the southpaw was dismissed by Iain O’'Brien. There was not much of fireworks later as India finished on 149/6.
Jesse Ryder got New Zealand off to a flyer and along with McCullum brought the team's fifty in just 4.3 overs. After Ryder's departure, Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajn Singh bowled well and kept the pressure on the New Zealand batsmen.
India continued to bowl tightly and managed to pick wickets but McCullum stood India's way. McCullum struck the last ball of the penultimate over by Yuvraj Singh for a four to bring the equation to 12 required of the last over.
This soon became nine required off three balls when McCullum hit Pathan for two consecutive fours of the fourth and fifth ball. McCullum then took a single of the last ball to help New Zealand win the thriller by 5 wickets. For his unbeaten 69 McCullum was named the Man of the Match.
India vs New Zealand, 2nd T20I, MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai, 11th September 2012
India began well after winning the toss as they scalped two early wickets to leave New Zealand tottering at 2/2. However the pair of Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum repaired the innings and pushed the Indians on the backfoot.
Irfan Pathan managed to see the back of Williamson but McCullum continued to punish the bowling. McCullum slammed a brilliant 91 off 55 deliveries as New Zealand posted 167 for the loss of five wickets.
In reply, Kohli and Gambhir got India off to a quick start before Gambhir was caught and bowled by Kyle Mills.
Raina joined Kohli and the pair rebuild the chase before Raina was dismissed. Yuvraj came to the crease and hit Vettori for two sixes to ease off the pressure. Yuvraj played a fine knock but eventually was dismissed for 70 off 41 deliveries.
From a promising position, India inexplicably slowed down as 13 runs were required in the last over. This came down to six required off the last two balls. Rohit Sharma could only run a couple of runs as New Zealand had won a close contest by just one run. For his 91 Brendon McCullum was named the Man of the Match.
Even though India has not beaten New Zealand in four attempts, two of the games have been decided off the last ball and the other two have been close.
India have been playing good cricket of late and are playing at home. With home advantage on their side, the Men in Blue will eye to change the equation when they meet the Kiwis in the main draw.
The author tweets@ravivenkat007