India vs NZ T20Is: Bowlers, Suryakumar help hosts level series

NZ stoutly defended a mere 99 as they stretched India to the penultimate ball before falling short

NEW DELHI | Updated: 30 January, 2023 4:34 am IST
Suryakumar Yadav (Photo Courtesy BCCI)

The lowest score that was defended by a team in T20 internationals is 90, when Nigeria bowled out Sierra Leone in Lagos two years back.

New Zealand would have been fourth on the list when their bowlers stretched hosts India to the penultimate ball of the match, defending 99, before suffering a six-wicket loss on January 29.

But it was Suryakumar Yadav, who once again came to India’s rescue – although with a different approach – after Indian spinners kept a tight leash on their rivals. To their credit, New Zealand tweakers matched their Indian counterparts, but in the end, it was too small a target for them to defend.

The result helped India level the three-match series at 1-1 after New Zealand beat India in the opener in Ranchi.

The fact that Lucknow’s Ekana Stadium had favoured the team batting first in the previous five T20Is perhaps played in Kiwi skipper Mitchell Santner’s mind as he opted to bat first.

With the red-soil pitch expected to favour the spinners, India brought in Yuzvendra Chahal for Umran Malik, which gave India four spin options, including Deepak Hooda.

NZ batters found the going tough against India (Photo Courtesy BCCI)

 

It was a decision that paid dividends, as New Zealand found the going tough against Indian spinners. Call it the Indian Premier League (IPL) effect or better preparations, the visiting teams often find themselves putting up a fight against Indian spinners – especially on the spinning tracks of the country.

New Zealand were no different, but it was their execution of the reverse sweep that spelt their doom, as they lost three key wickets attempting the shot.

Introduced to the attack in the fourth over, Chhahal quickly got into action when Finn Allen’s attempt to negate spin through a reverse sweep only led to a deflection that rattled the Kiwi’s stump.

Fellow opener Devon Conway’s attempt at the shot only saw him lob one to Ishan Kishan off Washington Sundar. Glenn Phillips, refusing to learn the lesson, exposed all three of his stumps while attempting to negate the innocuous spin of Deepak Hooda.

It was three for 35 by the seventh over, and New Zealand could never recover, though skipper Santner and Michael Bracewell tried to revive the innings with a 20-run stand.

Such was the role of the spinners that skipper Hardik Pandya only used himself as the medium pacer. However, Pandya and Arshdeep Singh then made the short ball and picked three wickets between themselves that helped India restrict their rivals to 99 for 8 from 20 overs.

Taking a cue from India, New Zealand used five spinners – and eight bowlers overall – as they made the going tough for Indian batters.

New Zealand bowlers rose to the challenge (Photo Courtesy BCCI)

 

Shubman Gill fell for 11, and Ishan Kishan’s struggle ended with a runout after his 32-ball 19. Rahul Tripathi’s inexperience perhaps got the better of him, as he wilted under pressure.

At 50 for three, in the 11th over, India were biting their nails. Sundar promoted the order, then joined hands with Yadav to calm the flailing nerves.

Dealing with ones and twos, the duo added 20 runs for the fourth wicket before a mix-up saw Sundar sacrifice his wicket.

And Suryakumar ensured that his teammate’s sacrifice was not in vain, as he and skipper Hardik Pandya added 31 runs for the unbroken 5th wicket, allowing India to huff and puff their way to the finish line.

BRIEF SCORE: NZ 99/8 (Mitchel Santner 19; Arshdeep Singh 2/7) lost to India 101/4 (Suryakumar Yadav 26; Michael Bracewell 1/13) by six wickets

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