The 3rd T20I was reduced to just 8 overs as New Zealand were set a target of 68 to win the series. On the other hand, the Indian bowlers had other plans to defy the visitors. They did just that as each and every bowler executed his plan perfectly. India has always been known for its batting but in the recent times, the Indian bowlers have improved on their performances and have snatched the limelight, even in pressure situations where the margin for error is very minimum.
It was raining quite heavily in Thiruvananthapuram, the venue where the decider of the India vs New Zealand T20I series was to be played. With the series levelled at 1-1, the crowd had turned up in large numbers and even after a two hour delay in the toss, they were unmoved. The game was reduced to 8 overs per side as New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl first. They made one change, with Tim Southee coming in for Adam Milne. India, on the other hand, made two changes with Kuldeep Yadav and Manish Pandey replacing Axar Patel and Siraj.
With just 8 overs to play, Indian openers had the license to play big shots from the onset. Both, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan struck one boundary each before the southpaw getting out. Southee got two wickets in as many deliveries as Dhawan (6) and Rohit (8) departed. In just 2.3 overs bowled, India were 15/2 with Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer on the crease. After getting his eye in (two balls), Kohli hit Ish Sodhi for a four and six to set things straight. But Kohli (13) could not clear the boundary on the last ball as he was caught at deep midwicket by Trent Boult. After 4 overs, India were 31/3.
Pandey came in next and looked comfortable. Iyer, on the other hand, got out to Sodhi for 6. Hardik Pandya joined Pandey as India reached 50 in 6 overs. Pandya struck a six in the seventh over with 11 runs coming off it. Boult came in to ball the last over and removed Pandey, who made a valuable 17 runs. Pandya was able to score only 5 runs off the last four balls as India ended on 67/5.
India needed some quick wickets to gain the upper hand in the rain-curtailed match. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro came out with a positive intent as they knew, two good overs could change the match. Munro announced himself as he dispatched Bhuvneshwar Kumar on his first delivery over midwicket. At the other end, Bhuvneshwar removed Guptill (1) on the last ball of his first over. Bumrah shared the new ball and gave New Zealand another blow. Munro could not get the perfect elevation as Rohit took a good catch, running backwards. It was a big wicket for India, knowing he can punish the bowlers. Bumrah’s first over went for only 3 runs with the scoreboard reading 11/2 after 2 overs.
Kohli introduced Chahal as the Kiwi batsmen failed to adjust to his spin and bounce. Chahal too, mixed his deliveries perfectly to trouble the ‘just-in’ batsmen. Kohli wanted wickets, hence went with Bhuvneshwar but the plan didn’t work as New Zealand got 10 runs in it. After 4 overs, the Kiwis were 26/2 with 42 runs needed.
Kuldeep Yadav was introduced next and the Chinaman knew what he had to do. Two singles of the first two balls and the pressure (and run rate) was rising. Williamson (8) lost his wicket, courtesy to a direct throw from Pandya while trying to sneak a single. Glenn Phillips, tried to slog sweep Kuldeep on the next ball, only to find Shikhar at the boundary. He made 11 and Kiwis were staring down the barrel. It was a perfect over from Kuldeep but fellow Knight, Colin de Grandhomme hit a flat six on the last ball.
It was Chahal’s turn to bowl his second over and the leggie did a brilliant job. He gave away just three runs as the batsmen struggled to pick his variations. He ended up giving just 8 runs in his two overs. Bumrah bowled the penultimate over as he picked up Henry Nicholls (2) on the very first ball. Tom Bruce (4) was the next batsman to be dismissed, thanks a brilliant throw from Pandya with Dhoni doing the rest to run him out. Bumrah gave away just 7 runs with Kiwis needing 19 off the last over.
Hardik Pandya was given the responsibility and the all-rounder didn’t disappoint. Although Grandhomme hit 1 six, it was too late for the visitors. They ended up on 61/6 as India won the T20I series, 2-1. Jasprit Bumrah was awarded with the Man of the Match for his figures of 2/9 as well as the Man of the Series award.
India will take on neighbours, Sri Lanka in their next assignment. The tour will consist of 3 tests, ODIs & T20Is each. The first test begins on 16th November at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.