‘Incredible’ India sniff series
That India are favourites for the third T20I of the five-match series against New Zealand would perhaps be an understatement.
Not just because of the ruthless manner in which they have won the first two matches, but also because of the respect they currently command, even away from home.
To put it in New Zealand pacer Tim Southee’s words: “India have played well. They’re a great side and they’re full of world-class players. The first game is the one that slightly got away from us, but we were certainly outplayed in the second.
“We know it’s always tough when you play against India and they’re becoming a better and better side away from home as well.”
The third match is in Hamilton on Wednesday. A win at Seddon Park will give India their first-ever T20I series win on New Zealand soil, a feat they were unable to achieve on two previous occasions.
Both the batsmen and bowlers have been impressive for India. But to be specific, it’s the batsmen who have bulldozed the Black Caps. The performances of K.L. Rahul and Shreyas Iyer over the recent months, and in this series particularly, have been excellent. Add to that the might of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
Batting coach Vikram Rathour on Tuesday was all praise for Rahul and Iyer. “The more opportunities these guys get, they are showing how capable they are. They are showing that they are match-winners on their day. That will help the team, of course, but it will also help their confidence.
“Having seen KL (Rahul) and Shreyas as young cricketers coming through, I have absolutely no doubt that they are match-winners. Apart from having those (batting) skills, I think Iyer’s mindset is amazing. Iyer believes he is a big player, and he is, without any doubt,” Rathour said.
The former India batsman called the new generation of Indian cricketers “incredible” and said the team management has identified the core of players for the T20 World Cup in October-November.
“Adjustments will keep going on till the last minute. But as far as I am concerned and the team management is concerned, we have the core. We know what our team is going to be,” said Rathour. “This new generation is incredible. I find it amazing actually that they turn up and are at their best straightaway,” he added.
It is unlikely that India will tinker with the playing XI, though spinner Kuldeep Yadav may get a look-in after sitting out the first two matches.