Former cricketer Zaheer Khan reckons that New Zealand needs to focus on helping their players gain confidence rather than on the technical aspects of the game. The Kiwis are down 0-4 in the five-match T20I series against India and face the prospect of a whitewash ahead of the fifth match on Sunday.
Having lost two easily-winnable matches on the trot, the tag surrounding the Kiwi side has shifted from ‘spirited’ to ‘chokers’. And as Zaheer points out, losing out from a situation where the Black Caps needed a-run-a-ball 18 with as many as seven wickets in hand is not acceptable at the international level, particularly with a T20 World Cup around the corner.
“You have to bring in the mental aspect of the game. I don’t see any other explanation. Losing in a Super Over from 18 runs off 18 balls with so many wickets in hand is simply not acceptable. When someone is able to stay in the present, absorb that pressure and get the job done, that’s when you see the character of the player. It’s not so much the technical aspects of the game that they’re looking into, it’s about looking at the characters of the players and giving them confidence. They’re a decent side who has shown signs of coming back from 2-0 down except for executing that last push which is required to get them over the line,” Zaheer said on Cricbuzz Live.
Zaheer further pointed out two silly errors made the third and final ball of the Shardul Thakur over (20th over) where the Kiwis needed seven to win, with a well-set Tim Seifert at the crease.
“You run for a bye when a lower-order batsman is batting or you know you can’t really manage the situation. You have Seifert who was looking good and Daryl Mitchell who hit a boundary off the first ball. It’s about realising that, at that stage, under pressure, I can get the team home. And that too it’s not the main bowler who’s bowling the overs. There are enough hints that there was panic in the New Zealand dressing room for sure,” he noted.
On the final ball, Mitchell Santner forced what would’ve been a wide ball through covers and only managed a run when they needed two to win. He pointed out that getting across the line in the last over has become a psychological barrier for the hosts, where they have failed in consecutive T20 games in the series.
“Even that last ball, when New Zealand needed two to win. Santner actually helped the bowler because it would’ve been a wide. That’s what pressure does to you. You’re actually wanting that ball to come and hit the bat somehow. In the process, you’re not actually analysing the plan is (from the bowling side). No matter what they’re trying, they’re getting into a pressure situation and succumbing to it. It’s become a psychological barrier which they’ve not been able to cross in this series,” Zaheer added.