India vs New Zealand: Series on line, focus on wicket
India’s performances in the last two T20 World Cups have proved that their game plan is still not suited to match the best in the shortest format.
Not surprisingly, it has been a rather bumpy ride for India when they ran into a quality opposition like New Zealand in the T20I series at home. New Zealand’s convincing victory in the opener was followed by a narrow Indian victory in Lucknow on Sunday. With the series tied 1-1, it’s time for one last push for Hardik Pandya’s team in the decider in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
The talk on the eve of the match centred around the surface at a venue which has had its share of controversies in the past. More importantly, India’s enviable home record could be put to the test if things don’t fall into place.
While the pitch in Ranchi left Hardik Pandya “surprised”, he was “shocked” by what was on offer in Lucknow. The last thing that both teams want is a tricky surface.
Suryakumar Yadav though felt that both sides should take it on as a challenge and move forward.
“It doesn’t matter what soil you play on. These are the things which aren’t in your control. Whatever was in our control, we did in the last game. And we had to apply and adapt whatever we got. Also, it was an exciting game. No matter what the conditions or the format are, if both teams try to have a good competition... the wicket shouldn’t matter a lot. You go out there, have a challenge, accept it and move on,” he said.
Asked to comment about Pandya’s comment on the wicket, Surya said: “It is completely fine. But we had a chat later on and it was like whatever we get in the future we will go on with it.”
Pitch aside, Pandya knows that there’s work to be done with a young side ahead of the 2024 T20 World Cup. While the death bowling cost them in Ranchi, their batting failed to inspire confidence as India got past a target of 100 with only a ball to spare.
Pandya, the Gujarat Titans captain, who will be leading India for the first time on his home turf, is sure to be cheered on by the crowd, and there will be many of them at the huge stadium.
The venue has pitches with both black and red soil and it will be interesting to see which surface will be used on Wednesday.
It will be interesting to see if India try out Prithvi Shaw. But Ishan Kishan’s form will be under the scanner for sure. Following his 210 in an ODI in Bangladesh, he has struggled to score even half of those runs in the next eight innings. The left-hander needs to score runs to justify his place at the top of the order.
Suryakumar, the world’s No.1 T20I batter, attributed his exploits in domestic cricket to his composure while batting in tense situations. “I’ve played a lot of domestic cricket before making my international debut, that has helped me a lot.
“You have to apply yourself a lot and the grind you have there, playing on different challenging tracks, I just carried it from there. Rest I’ve learnt seeing so many senior players in the team,” Surya said.
The venue brings back sweet memories for Surya since it was here that he made his international debut, against England on March 14, 2021.
Turning a tad emotional, he said: “I told my manager also, ‘I’m back where it all began’. I even took the steps slowly thinking of 2021 and how I came here. I’ve very good memories, but it will be completely different now. Beautiful stadium, amazing crowd, looking forward to an exciting game tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said.
■ India vs New Zealand, 3rd T20I, 7pm, live on Star Sports Network