Updated: February 9, 2019 4:46:05 pm
Only on three occasions have India looked truly vulnerable on their tour of New Zealand. One of these was in the fifth ODI when they were reduced to 18/4 within the first 10 overs by Matt Henry before impressively rallying to a total of 252 and defending it successfully. There were no such comebacks in the previous game as India were bundled out for 92 and New Zealand chased the target down in 15 overs.
That match, the only one the Kiwis won in that series, was played in Hamilton which will also host the decisive third T20I on Sunday.
The Indian bowlers struggled with their lines in the first T20I and Blackcaps opener Tim Seifert pounced on them. His 43-ball 84 powered the hosts to a mammoth 219 and India went on to lose the match by 80 runs, their heaviest defeat in the shortest form of the game.
However, Rohit Sharma made no changes to the team in the second T20I and his players repaid his faith. The bowlers restricted the hosts to 158 in Auckland and the batsmen chased it down with seven wickets and as many balls to spare.
Krunal Pandya once again underlined his importance by wiping out the New Zealand top order in Auckland and his presence lower down the order eases the pressure on those that come before him. Khaleel Ahmed stuck to the template that was given to him by his captain, bowling back of a length deliveries to make it difficult for the opposition to score boundaries off him and followed that up with a sensational final over in which he took two wickets.
Indian bowlers delivered a total of 35 dot balls in the second ODI, one of the main reasons behind restricting the Kiwis to 158/8.
India’s batting order looked as solid as ever in the second T20I. Rohit Sharma crossed 100 career sixes and also became the highest run scorer in T20 Internationals with his 29-ball 50 that set India on the path to victory. Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni then ensured that India go on to win the match without losing more than three wickets.
Unless there are injuries, India would not be keen on making changes to the squad for the final match. Kuldeep Yadav might be given a chance, possibly in place of Yuzvendra Chahal but the latter has been preferred in the shortest format of the game more often than not.
Vijay Shankar, who has not bowled thus far, could also be kept out if India are opting for an extra spiinner.
Before November 2018, India had never won a Test series or ODI series in Australia and a T20I series in New Zealand. Fast forward three months and they have struck the first two tasks off that list and are now looking to finish off the third.
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