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Series levelled in a thriller

Monday 30 January 2023 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports

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India vs New Zealand – T20 Series – 2nd T20i. New Zealand 99 for 8 in 20 overs (Santner 19, Arshdeep 2/7, Chahal 1/4) lost to India 101 for 4 in 19.5 overs (Suryakumar 26*, Bracewell 1/13) by 6 wickets with 1 ball remaining.

This was one bizarre game of cricket. For starters New Zealand managed only 99 in their 20 overs in Lucknow.

None of their batters managed to get past 20. Yuzvendra Chahal who was picked in this game in place of Umran Malik bowled two highly effective overs for only four runs and picked up a wicket but didn’t get to finish his full quota of four overs.

Deepak Hooda who is a part time spinner got to bowl a full spell of four overs. Although the pitch was a square turner India’s most successful bowler was left arm quick Arshdeep Singh but he only got his hands on the ball in the 18th over. Shivam Mavi who was picked as a frontline fast bowler only bowled one over in the game and that too the 19th one of the innings.

India’s run chase was bizarre too. Suryakumar Yadav who has changed the landscape of T20 batting in the world played probably the slowest T20 innings of his life.

He remained 26 not out in 31 balls to see India home in a tricky run chase on a pitch that was turning square from ball one. New Zealand bowled 17 overs of spin in India’s run chase using five different spinners which in itself might be a record of sorts.

The pitch itself has come in for a lot of criticism from all quarters. India’s captain Hardik Pandya referred to it as a “shocker” in the post-match press conference.

I guess a good pitch is one that allows for an even contest between bat and ball and in this case the pitch was heavily skewed in favour of the spinners. It will be interesting to see the match referee’s report on the surface and whether the ICC will take any action against the venue?

Both teams though will have lots to ponder about. The Black Caps might want to have a look at their shot selection in general and the over use of sweeps and reverse sweeps in particular. On the other hand, India’s approach in the run chase left a lot to be desired.

Yes, it was a difficult pitch but did they make it more difficult for themselves by being overly defensive. Hardik Pandya who spends a lot of time with ex India captain M S Dhoni did exactly what Dhoni would have done in the situation.

He took the run chase deep which was fine in this case because the required run rate was never out of hand. But sometimes such approaches have a tendency to go horribly wrong too.

The series though is now levelled with all to play for in the final T20i on Wednesday.

The decider will be played at Ahmedabad i.e. a venue with a capacity to hold 132,000 spectators – the highest in the world.

Early indications are that there are very few tickets left so regardless of the result it will be a phenomenal experience for all involved to play in front of such a massive crowd. Hopefully the pitch is a sporting one.