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Pandya seal on his ‘brand’

If I captain in one match or one series, I’ll lead the team my way, how I see and perceive the game, says Hardik
Man of the match Mohammed Siraj during the third T20I in Napier on Tuesday.
Man of the match Mohammed Siraj during the third T20I in Napier on Tuesday.

A Staff Reporter   |   Calcutta   |   Published 23.11.22, 04:50 AM

It wouldn’t be too wrong to say that rain had the most significant role in the three-T20I series that concluded in Napier on Tuesday. India, though, wouldn’t be having too many reasons to complain as they could register yet another bilateral series win which should be a little bit of solace, especially after their humiliating loss to England in the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

At McLean Park on Tuesday, India were 75 for 4 in nine overs in response to New Zealand’s 160 before another downpour — following the one that had delayed the start — caused an interruption. Play couldn’t resume and the match ended in a tie with India having reached the par score as per DLS method.

Having won the second T20I after the opener was washed out, Hardik Pandya and his teammates wrapped up the series 1-0. For Pandya, this was his second straight series victory as captain after he had led India to a 2-0 win against Ireland back in June.

“If I captain in one match or one series, I’ll lead the team my way, how I see and perceive the game,” Pandya said about his leadership. “Whenever I’m given the opportunity, I’ll always go out and play the brand of cricket I know. As a unit, we’ll display my brand.”

On his part, Pandya certainly tried his best to marshal his troops well. He didn’t bowl at all in these two matches but showed faith in the rest of the bowlers, who vindicated his trust. 

One might as well question New Zealand’s intensity, particularly after a hectic T20 World Cup. But India’s bowlers do deserve their due credit in making the scenario as tough as possible for the Black Caps batters.

After bundling New Zealand out for 126 last Sunday, quicks Mohammed Siraj (4/17) and Arshdeep Singh (4/37) were instrumental in triggering a collapse in the final T20I. Opting to bat first, New Zealand looked set for a 170-plus total, thanks to Devon Conway (59) and Glenn Phillips (54).

But following Conway’s departure, Siraj and Arshdeep reduced the hosts to 149 for 9 in the 19th over from 146 for 4 in over No.17. Siraj focused mainly on varying his lengths while Arshdeep, although struggling at times with his control, got it right to strike thrice in the closing overs.

Moving forward, the duo in all fairness, are in line to be among India’s first-choice bowlers in the shortest format.   

Batting concerns

In spite of the series win, there’s still a little bit of introspection the Indian team management needs to do, especially when it comes to batting. In the previous game, Suryakumar Yadav came to the team’s rescue after the others in the top four couldn’t fire. On Tuesday, the performance of openers Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant along with No.4 Shreyas Iyer was no better.

While Kishan and Pant fell to injudicious strokes, Shreyas’ technique against the short ball was again brutally exposed by New Zealand’s stand-in captain Tim Southee. India had slipped to 21 for 3 in the third over and on this occasion, Suryakumar too didn’t last long. 

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