India vs New Zealand: Surya form aside, poser for batters
India and New Zealand would be having quite a few puzzles to solve after their final T20I appearance this year at McLean Park in Napier on Tuesday.
Both sides, strong on paper, were beaten hands down in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup earlier this month, something that has raised questions about their respective team compositions in the shortest format.
However, with a 1-0 lead, Hardik Pandya and his teammates would certainly feel much better if they win Tuesday’s decider and wrap up the series.
New Zealand, who had put in a mediocre display to lose the previous game in Mount Maunganui by 65 runs, will be taking the field without captain Kane Williamson as the latter has a pre-arranged medical appointment. Senior pacer Tim Southee will be the standin captain with Mark Chapman called in as a cover.
Williamson is expected to rejoin the squad ahead of the three-match ODI series beginning on Friday.
In any case, the Black Caps skipper hasn’t been in the best of form as even last Sunday at Bay Oval he had laboured to a 52-ball 61.
The Indian bowlers were hardly put to a test right through his stay in the middle.
Williamson’s absence thus shouldn’t matter much for India, who rather need to analyse their batting and try and iron out the flaws there as much as possible.
In the second T20I, it was purely due to yet another stellar knock from Suryakumar Yadav (111 not out off 51 balls) that India could post 191 for 6. That Suryakumar alone scored almost 60 per cent of India’s total doesn’t at all bode well for the side as it only reflects non-performance from the rest in the batting line-up.
Of course, Suryakumar has been at his consistent best lately, but it’s no guarantee that he will come to the team’s rescue on each and every occasion. Besides, the opposition won’t just be keeping their hands folded and admiring his batting. They are working on keeping plans ready to negate the SKY factor in the decider.
“We have had a few discussions already and will have some more tomorrow (Tuesday) morning before the game around how we can combat him,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said about Suryakumar on Monday, the eve of the final T20I.
Whether the Black Caps’ plans keep Suryakumar at bay or not remains to be seen. But before that, India may need to have a re-look at their opening combination.
With Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul rested, the team management had pinned hopes on Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant to make use of the early field restrictions and take the side off to a flier. Rohit and Rahul were struggling to score in excess of six an over in the Powerplays in the T20 World Cup, but on Sunday evening, Kishan and Pant were no different.
The two youngsters weren’t really fluent, especially Pant, who managed only six off the 13 balls he faced. After six overs, India’s scorecard read 42 for 1, which wasn’t excellent by any means.
Also, Sunday wasn’t the first instance of Pant playing as an opener. But yet again, he failed to get going batting at the top of the order.
So should India take this particular aspect into account and think of a rejig at the top? Time to put the thinking caps on.
India vs New Zealand, third & final T20I live on Prime Video from 12 noon (IST)