Greenfield International Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram
November 7, Tuesday, 19:00 IST
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We witnessed a role reversal in Rajkot from Delhi and with these two teams having cancelled each other out in terms of performances and results, we go into the series decider at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. The two T20 Internationals so far have been one-sided, just as the first two One-Day Internationals were too, but we can have very few complaints given that the final match will not be a dead rubber; and, like in the final ODI in Kanpur, a winner-takes-all match will probably bring the best out of these two dynamic teams.
New Zealand’s bold team selection, which involved Tim Southee being left out for the pacey Adam Milne, was rewarded in the second Twenty20, albeit India being poor helped massively. And for the Blackcaps to be able to go home with a trophy, a repeat of the Rajkot performance, needless to say, is what is necessary. Colin Munro and Martin Guptill, for the first time on this tour, gave their team a head start and defending 197, the New Zealand bowlers, led by the ever-dependable Trent Boult, kept the Indian batsmen on a tight leash. From the Kiwis’ perspective, this Indian side led by Virat Kohli are prominent for their bounce-back ability—the last time Team India lost back-to-back matches in any format was in January 2016, in Australia—and Kane Williamson’s men have to be on top of their game on Tuesday.
A collective failure with the bat, ball and on the field was what cost India the Rajkot T20. The two newcomers, Shreyas Iyer and Mohammed Siraj, failed to show that they belong at the international level and though you cannot be critical of them, the national team suffered as a result of these two players’ performances. The team management have to address the combination (five batsmen, five bowlers and one all-rounder) they have opted for in the first two T20 Internationals. Sticking with the same combination will not only be a bold decision but also point to a trust in the players who played on Saturday. However, India must contend with the opposition and the lack of control over the toss.
What happens if Kane Williamson wins the toss again and opts to bat first? And batting first, if the New Zealand batsmen have another field day and post a formidable total, the Indian batting line-up needs firepower to be able to chase down a potentially big target. On the evidence of the second T20, the Indian middle order doesn’t boast the wherewithal for chasing a target which necessitates scoring close to 10 runs per over from the word go. So, if the batting line-up has to be reinforced, a bowler will obviously have to be sacrificed.
Also, India need Hardik Pandya to fire with the ball and bat; he has had an ordinary time against New Zealand, after a series of great outings against Australia, and his failures aren’t doing any good to the team. Yuzvendra Chahal (1/36 in four overs) and Axar Patel (0/39 in three overs) had poor outings with the ball in Rajkot and they ought to be more disciplined with their lines and lengths. Essentially, in this format of the sport, these two spinners must find the balance between bowling to take wickets and bowling to tie the batsmen down and help the team retain control of the match. The performances of these two spinners will have a bearing on Tuesday’s T20I.
Thiruvananthapuram last hosted an international cricket match in 1988. The new Greenfield Stadium was opened in January 2015 and this multi-purpose venue can host cricket and football matches to go with indoor games. Being a new venue, we do not have a clear idea of the on-field conditions. And because of the unfamiliarity, the captain who wins the toss could opt to field first, thereby helping himself and his team gather an idea about the pitch and more importantly, put the opposition under pressure. The weather forecast says that Tuesday (November 7) will be cloudy and see thunderstorms, with a maximum temperature of 31 degree Celsius and a minimum of 26 degree Celsius.
IND: LWNRLW (last five T20 Internationals, from left to right)
3rd T20: India vs New Zealand playing XI
With the series on the line, I expect India to be pragmatic and integrate an additional batsman in the XI, potentially in place of Siraj, who conceded 53 runs in his four overs and took just one wicket in the bargain in the second Twenty20. Dropping this Hyderabad pacer will be harsh, considering he only made his debut a couple of nights ago, but if he is indeed dropped, that decision will have been made in the best interest of the team. Iyer struggled too, after making a fluent start to his innings, but he will probably retain his place in the playing 11.
Possible India playing 11 for third T20: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, and 11 Jasprit Bumrah
After an almost perfect day at the office, New Zealand are likely to stick with the winning combination. The form of Guptill will have been a worry ahead of the second Twenty20, but he came good in Rajkot with a 41-ball 45.
Probable New Zealand playing XI: 1 Kane Williamson (c), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Glenn Phillips (wk), 5 Tom Bruce, 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Trent Boult, and 11 Ish Sodhi
In the first two matches of this three-T20I series, one team made all the errors and the other team benefitted from the same. Therefore, we can safely say that the team who make fewer errors, will win the 3rd T20 and the series. The ability to handle the pressure of a must-win match will also hold the key.