New Zealand have done it again. They have beaten India at home for the second time on this tour, winning the second T20 by 40 runs to level the series 1-1, setting up the decider for Thursday at Thiruvananthapuram.
Colin Munro hit his second T20I century of the year, blasting 109 off 58 balls to guide New Zealand to 196-2 at the end of 20 overs. Martin Guptill contributed with a 45, his highest score of the tour so far. The bowlers then dismissed both the Indian openers in the first two overs of the second innings, a lethal blow the home side never recovered from.
The ODI series was also level after two matches, with India winning the series. Can they do it again, or will New Zealand end the tour with the decisive victory?
Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj.
Where the teams stand
After some poor performances on the tour so far, Trent Boult was back to his best, wreaking havoc upon the Indian batting order and ending the match with figures of 4-34. He took 4 wickets in the first ODI which also led to a New Zealand victory, a prime indicator that the team’s overall success hinges on his performance with the ball.
With the bat, the same could be for Tom Latham, but Munro and Guptill have debunked that notion after their performances in the second T20. Their batting is still overly reliant on the top three to perform. Henry Nicholls, Tom Bruce, and Glenn Phillips are all batsmen who are yet to prove their potential on the international stage, and the subcontinent is not an easy place to do that.
Colin de Grandhomme has the ability to score big runs but is inconsistent, more suited to a finishing role which does not require him to stay out in the middle for too long. Unless Latham returns, the tourists will struggle with the bat if India make early inroads.
New Zealand’s decision to replace Tim Southee with Adam Milne paid off as the latter bowled a strong spell despite being wicketless in four overs. Ish Sodhi was impressive again, finishing with 1-25 in his quota.
After his terrific contribution with the bat, Munro bowled well during the middle overs, taking the wicket of Shreyas Iyer. He has taken over the bowling duties from de Grandhomme after the latter proved to be expensive on the tour. If New Zealand are to win the third T20, Trent Boult will have to lead them to victory.
The second T20 was a disaster for India. They made the wrong decision every time a major dilemma came their way. They fielded first to avoid dealing with the dew later on and picked Siraj over an extra batsman. The debutant was unlucky to be on the wrong side of the onslaught started by Munro, and as Bumrah rightly said in an interview, this experience will only help him grow as a bowler.
Picking Siraj over a middle order batsman is an easy decision to criticise given the outcome of the second T20, but if anyone had played a supporting role alongside Kohli and Dhoni, India would likely have won.
After dominating in the last match, the openers could not give India a steady start. Both fell cheaply, making Kohli push Iyer to number three instead of himself. In an almost 200 run chase, one would ideally want Kohli to play as many deliveries as possible, but to his credit, Iyer off to a fiery start. His scoring rate eventually slowed, going from 18 in 7 balls to 23 in 21 after starting off with four fours.
Once he and Pandya departed within 3 balls of each other, the chase slowed down drastically due to Dhoni taking his time to settle in. He was 28 from 28 after 18 overs before he started teeing off, but it was too little too late. Kohli tried putting up a resistance, but with no support, India succumbed to a heavy defeat.
The spinners have been a key to India’s success in recent series’, and one of the rare times they fail to perform, India crumbled. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were both economically efficient, with rates of 5.75 and 7.25 respectively, but Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal were both expensive, with economies of 13 and 9.
India has the same dilemma for the third match as the second one. Though analysts think retaining Siraj is the way to go, India need a stable middle order. Patel, who has a reputation with the bat, has failed to perform so far, leaving India with only 5 batsmen to contend with. Iyer could also miss out in favour of Dinesh Karthik. Either way, Kohli absolutely needs to drop either Iyer or Siraj to make way for Karthik to give his team the best chance of winning on Tuesday.
India win. New Zealand have done well to make this a competitive series, but India should have enough about them to see this one off.
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