Series clincher ‒ Five Talking Points from India’s Super Over T20 win against New Zealand
Here are five talking points from the nail-biter of a T20I that helped India clinch their first white-ball series win in New Zealand.
Kane Williamson (95 from 48 balls) must have thought he had orchestrated the perfect T20 chase for New Zealand in the 19th over but a calamitous end to the match for the hosts saw Mohammed Shami pull off a stunning spell to help India tie the encounter. New Zealand batsmen did their bit by scoring 18 runs off the Jasprit Bumrah Super Over but Rohit Sharma, India’s standout batsman of the day, and KL Rahul hit 20 runs off Tim Southee to help India win the match and the five-match T20 series.
India have an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series but the victory in Hamilton, unlike the first two in Auckland, was the trickiest of the three with the Men in Blue really lucky to come away with a win.
Virat Kohli-led team India will only have themselves to blame for the making the match such a close encounter though, failing to capitalize on a strong start handed over to them by opener Rohit Sharma 65 (40). A strange decision to play Shivam Dube at number three marked the start of the troubles for India who lost quick wickets in the middle stages of the match that affected their performance in the slog overs.
The bowlers, especially the usually reliable pacers Jasprit Bumrah (0/45 in 4 overs), had a forgetful evening but their batsmen did their bit to pull the Blues through.
Here are five talking points from the nail-biter of a T20I that helped India clinch their first white-ball series victory in New Zealand. One has to feel sorry for New Zealand who don’t seem to have a lot of luck in Super Over situations.
1) Form is temporary, class is permanent
Rohit Sharma has the most number of international T20 centuries and he exhibited his effortless-hitting qualities once again as an opener against the Kiwis in Hamilton. After a tricky start where he played Tim Southee with caution, Sharma launched into a lethal attack on Hamish Bennett who had no answers to the Mumbai Indians’ captain. He scored 27 runs off a Bennett over that put the pressure on the hosts right from the word go. It was unfortunate the Indian opener could not convert his start into a century but Sharma laid the foundation stones for the 179 runs Indians managed. His contributions were vital once against in the Super Over where he smashed Tim Southee for consecutive sixes in the finals balls of the match to hand Indians a series win.
2) Bizarre Dube experiment
India will only have themselves to blame for halting the run flow after the wicket of KL Rahul near the tenth over of the match. The Men in Blue were cruising at 10 runs per over till then but the coaching staff’s decision to play Dube at number three backfired quickly as the all-rounder struggled to cope with the Kiwis’ pace attack. As VVS Laxman said from the Star Sports commentary box, the strategy would have been to go after the Kiwis’ spin attack but that didn’t happen which added pressure on the Rohit Sharma who got out playing a rash shot. Dube didn’t last long either, getting out in the same Hamish Bennett over, after struggling to the get the runs flowing. A more sensible move would have been to introduce the in-form Shreyas Iyer ahead of the Kohli (if they did want to experiment). Manish Pandey should consider himself unlucky too. He is the batsman in the Indian team who has played the least number of balls in the tournament so an upgrade to a number 3 or 4 in the match would have done his confidence a world of good. In hindsight, the quick wickets probably cost Indians 15-20 runs at least.
3) A spinning New Zealand
Mitchel Santner and Ish Sodhi had impressive outings for the hosts as they restricted India to an under-200 scored after the flying start provided by Rohit Sharma. But the Indians countered it with some excellent spells from Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal. Both the Indians spinners were in amongst the wickets the Men in Blue strangled the Kiwis for runs after the first powerplay. Had the Indian fielders backed up their spinners the game could have been won in regulation time. The spinning nature of the tracks will give coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli plenty to think about in the upcoming two T20 matches where they will be looking to experiment? Maybe replace Shivam Dube with Washington Sundar?
4) Attacking the ‘weak’ bowler
You saw it in the Indian innings and then you saw it again with New Zealand – getting greedy against the opposition’s weakest bowler of the day might be a bad strategy. Hamish Bennett was taken to the cleaners by Rohit Sharma in his first spell but the decision to attack the Kiwi pacer in his second spell led to the demise of Sharma and Dube. Similarly, Guptill, who was batting well till that point, made the silly mistake of targeting Thakur who is arguably India’s weakest bowler. Guptill’s wicket led to run-rate going down, and allowed the Indian spinners to help their team get back into the match.
5) Super Kane Williamson
The pre-tournament hype as around both the team captains – Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson – and in Hamilton, the Kiwi captain proved why he is considered a modern-day great. Williamson quickly understood the pace of the pitch, altered his approach to trouble the settled Indian bowlers and paced his innings to perfection to take his side tantalizingly close their target. His 98 will be a big statement to a lot of cricket enthusiasts who believe big-hitting is the only way to play the game. His reading of Bumrah was particularly impressive and that will give the Indians, who saw their star bowler get hit for 45 in his four over, a tough time in the dressing room.