India vs New Zealand, 3rd T20I (N), Kolkata, Nov 21 2021, New Zealand tour of India
If the first T20I was closer than India would’ve preferred, they bossed the second T20I to clinch the series in Ranchi for their fifth consecutive bilateral home series win. The seven-wicket win left the final game of the three-match series between India and New Zealand a formality match, but it also gives the hosts the opportunity to give extra players on the bench an opportunity with a target on building towards the T20 World Cup next year.
Change in waves due to Rohit-Dravid association
The change in waves brought about by the Rohit-Dravid association was for everyone to notice with the form of R Ashwin, who was making his return to the T20I format after four years. Not just did he bowl an over in the powerplay, but used his tactics to slow the scoring rate. With returns of 2-23 and 1-19, he’s put himself in contention for the player of the tournament. Since his return, he’s bowled 20 overs and has returned 9 wickets at 11.66 with an economy rate of 5.25. Ashwin had led India’s comeback in the second half of the innings – a period where India have been dominant in the format, only behind West Indies, picking up 59 wickets in 23 games with an economy rate of 8.54 runs an over.
Harshal Patel was spectacular on debut with his Man of the Match performance in Ranchi, carrying on from where he’d left off in the IPL with the most wickets to his name. Venkatesh Iyer made his debut in Jaipur, but hasn’t had enough time on the pitch. Skipper Rohit Sharma, however, said for those that haven’t played, “their time will come” and that India needed to look after those picked in the XI.
However, given that India only plays their next T20I series against South Africa late in January, it poses the question of whether one game is enough time for them between now and then, and if it is a chance enough.
Fatigued New Zealand struggle through the series
Meanwhile, New Zealand have been underwhelming on the whole despite dominant phases. Their main problem has been the inability of their batsmen to finish well despite having had good starts. The top order has performed, but the same can’t be said about the middle order. Glenn Phillips, who is the third-highest run-getter in T20 cricket in 2021 hasn’t been in the best of touch. This will be his last chance before the IPL mega auction to impress.
New Zealand’s bowling attack too, has barely posed challenged the batters for large parts. Tim Southee was the standout in Ranchi, but lacked a partner at the other end. The spinners have done their job, but it hasn’t been enough to contain India, who opted to chase in both games with Rohit’s good fortune at the toss.
Who will win?
India. India look too dominant. And even if they play their benched players for the 3rd game, they are the favorites to win the game. New Zealand’s middle order must deliver if they wish to save themselves from whitewash. The match will get a whole interesting if Tim Southee wins the toss and opts to bowl first. That will be exciting to see.