New Zealand might have lost the series but they still have one weapon - to turn every dead rubber into thriller by adding the Super Over element to it. So credit to New Zealand where it is due, it’s the hosts who brought the game alive from the dead and India, who eventually won it.
New Zealand’s fielding is still world-class
With Rohit Sharma being rested, one might have thought that the Indian onslaught might be on the less destructive end. However, together, KL Rahul and Sanju Samson killed it against all four bowlers, who delivered across the first five overs bringing up India’s fifty at a run rate of 10. But even then the hosts had a ray of hope shining with Mitchell Santner bagging two fine catches inside the 30-yard circle. Then there was Santner with his safe hands, yet again, covering all bases at the deep midwicket, dismissing KL Rahul. Almost every dismissal was well attributed to the fielders including the one Tim Seifert produced with his insane reflex- a catch and a stumping on the same delivery - to get rid of Shreyas Iyer. Even that didn’t quench New Zealand’s thirst for some crazy fielding. Tom Bruce and Daryl Mitchell - replacing Colin de Grandhomme and injured Kane Williamson - ducked and jumped, respectively, to avoid collision and carry out the most spectacular catch that you’ll see. This match was testimony to the fact that New Zealand, one of the best athletic sides that there is, have moved on from a World Cup full of fielding mishaps.
When Colin Munro gets going, he simply gets going
Colin Munro is reputed to be a slogger who is a remnant of Brendon McCullum’s style of play. But wasn’t McCullum a match-winner during his time? Then why doubt Munro in doing the same? After a crazy show by Kane Williamson in the previous game in Hamilton, the captain was ruled out of the penultimate game of the series due to a shoulder injury. Someone from the top-order had to take charge and it was none other than New Zealand’s best T20I batsman (arguably) - Colin Munro. Defying all hurdles, starting from the Jasprit Bumrah challenge to Navdeep Saini's pace, Munro carved out the perfect innings - 64 off 47- smashing six fours and three sixes. Meanwhile, he also battered Yuzvendra Chahal like he always does. Had he not lazily jogged his way back for a second run and had Kohli hadn't run him out, the result could've very well been in New Zealand's favour.
Manish Pandey is better than you think he is
If there’s one person who isn’t given enough credit (maybe only Kohli does) for his value to the Indian team, it’s none other than Manish Pandey. The problem is, he bats so down the order that he more often than not doesn’t get ample amount of deliveries a specialist batsman should get to face. Today, after a brilliant start by India, a quick succession of wickets stopped the Indian middle-order from further accelerating the innings. After India added 50 runs in the first five overs, the next seven overs only yielded 38 more runs and India lost four wickets as well. But with the help of Manish Pandey(50* off 36), who scored his first fifty in T20 Internationals, India were able to reach a total of 164-8. Even though he could only steal three boundaries, the right-hander maintained a strike rate of almost 140 and that displays the commitment to his batting. Moreover, his athleticism on the field is exceptional, making him undroppable from the side.
Tim Seifert belongs to the top-order
Long have the management and the captain toyed with Tim Seifert’s batting position. Not a good move, New Zealand. Primarily to fit in Colin de Grandhomme in the top-order, Seifert was pushed down the batting lineup and that did not just hurt Seifert’s cause but also New Zealand in the broadest possible manner. And this match is testimony to the fact that the wicketkeeper-batsman belongs to the top-order. After Colin Munro’s show of 64 runs off 47 deliveries, Seifert took care of the passed-on baton and carved out a 39-ball 57, similar to what Manish Pandey did for India, putting New Zealand ahead in the chase. Alternatively, New Zealand might have thought of using Seifert as a finisher. Hence, this game is also testimony to the fact that Seifert isn’t the finisher the Kiwis think he is as he gave away his wicket in an inexplicable run out after almost taking the team to victory.
Shardul Thakur turns death bowling supreme
Jasprit Bumrah looked out of touch in the previous game and yet won the Super Over for India. But how long can the best limited-overs bowler not be in form? Bumrah, quite expectedly came back to form and delivered brilliantly in the opening and the death overs and conceded only 20 runs, whilst also bagging a wicket, in his four overs. But it was Shardul Thakur, who had conceded 28 runs in his first three overs who came back in the final over with New Zealand needing only nine runs and Ross Taylor-Tim Seifert still surviving. The two batsmen who brought New Zealand so far in the chase failed to finish the game, courtesy Shardul Thakur. The pacer got Ross Taylor out on the first ball of the 20th over and then Daryl Mitchell on the penultimate delivery when just two more runs were required, paving way for yet another Super Over. His 5 for 2 in the final over also earned him the Man of the Match title for the game.
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