About the Match
A fantastic comeback by New Zealand has set up the T20 series for an exciting decider in the final match. The visitors blasted their way to 196 and then picked up early wickets to break the back of the Indian chase. With both the teams in form, it is going to be had to pick favorites.
India made the same mistakes that they benefitted from in the first game by giving plenty of chances to the opposition batsmen. Colin Munro scored a fantastic century but he was reprieved four times of relatively easy chances.
That is just unacceptable in an international game and it was no surprise when Munro made them pay.
The strategy of picking one extra bowler backfired on India as Mohammad Siraj was unable to have much impact in his first game. In fact, if it were not for Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, the Indians could have been chasing a far bigger total.
Axar Patel was a disappointment and we really struggle to see a role for him on flat, true pitches. Kuldeep Yadav would have been a much better choice with a number of variations up his sleeve.
India also must determine what they want from Hardik Pandya. It seems that Kohli is not very confident in his bowling right now and wants the cushion of an extra batsman. That leaves India short of one batsman in the middle order especially now that MS Dhoni is struggling to justify his place in the team.
Dhoni walked into a situation where fours and sixes were required but seemed intent on picking singles eventually driving up the run rate to an unmanageable level. His innings was one of the prime reasons why India was left so short in its chase and India must think of an alternative to him moving forward.
India is a team that is dependent on its top-3 in the limited overs format. Shreyas Iyer showed glimpses of good form before getting bogged down against the spinners but promises to be a useful addition to the team.
We think that the middle order needs to be reinforced before the next game in order to allow the top-order some room for error.
It was clear that New Zealand had learned from its last match as they showed better intent in every aspect of the game. Colin Munro and Martin Guptill never really let the Indian bowlers settle as both of them went all guns blazing.
Guptill, perhaps, could have tried to minimise his dot balls in the innings but he will still be happy to have launched a brilliant attack on India’s leading spinner and effectively forcing Kohli to remove him from the attack.
Munro also became the first batsman to score two T20 international centuries in a year and joined a select group of batsmen to have two centuries in this format altogether.
Munro’s innings papered over some potential weaknesses in the New Zealand batting, though, as no one else apart from him and Guptill got any runs. Even after a 100 plus runs at nearly a strike rate of 200, New Zealand could only manage 196 on a flat batting wicket.
Had India caught Munro when he offered the catches, the situation could have been much closer.
We are also not sure what the logic behind dropping someone like Tom Latham from the team was. He is in excellent form and has scored runs consistently but was replaced by Phillips who looked scratchy behind the stumps.
None the less, New Zealand definitely has more batting depth on paper than the Indian team with Phillips, de Grandhomme, Nicholls, and Santner still waiting in the shed.
The bowling also delivered what they missed in the last match by picking up early wickets. Trent Boult, who had gone for his worst figures in T20 cricket in the last match, picked up both Rohit Sharma and Shikar Dhawan in the powerplay to all but resign India to a defeat.
Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner outbowled the Indian spinner with ease and would be our picks to be the best bowlers in the third match once again.
There is no need for any further changes in the New Zealand side ahead of the decider.
Pitch and Conditions
A brand new stadium will be hosting the final match of the series. In fact, the last time that an international match was played in Thiruvananthapuram was way back in 1988. There is an early indication that the outfield is in pristine condition and that the pitch will come on nicely for the batsmen.
We could be in store for another match where 180 is a par total.
India now has a 1-5 win-loss record against New Zealand. New Zealand has the players to combat both spinning and good batting conditions.
New Zealand to win