WHAT INDIA do under Virat Kohli is find ways to win. The number of overs don’t matter, nor do match situations. On Tuesday, Thiruvananthapuram got its first taste of international cricket in nearly three decades, a unique brand of it anyway. The inclement weather around Indian cricket’s latest cricket centre meant that the final T20 match against New Zealand was reduced to a gully-cricket-like 8-overs-a-side clash.
For Kohli’s team, it basically meant doing what they’ve developed a reputation for, finding a way to win. And that’s exactly what they did with Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah proving for the umpteenth time just why they are perhaps the two men, along with Hardik Pandya perhaps, who have turned the Indians into a cerebral outfit in limited-overs cricket.
Bumrah finished with 2/9 in his two overs, figures that can be called magical in an 8-over format. He bowled the crucial penultimate over in which he conceded a single boundary with New Zealand requiring 29 and also took out the dangerous Henry Nicholls.
Chahal did even better. His two overs went for just 8 runs. He bowled the third over and allowed Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson just three runs off four balls. Kohli then turned to him for the sixth over despite the presence of Colin de Grandhomme, a big-hitter with a reputation of clearing fences despite his faux pas in Kanpur, in the middle. Chahal managed two dot balls against de Grandhomme, first a slider that whizzed past the right-hander’s bat and then a teaser, a tossed-up delivery outside off that pitched and turned past the muscular Kiwi, perhaps even mocking him along the way. That Chahal didn’t concede a single boundary in his two overs of the eight-over contest was akin to a featherweight boxer coming out of a heavyweight bout untouched.
The pitch — and the rain did have a lot to do with it — wasn’t one suited for limited-overs cricket, and certainly not for one as shortened as this. The Kiwi spinners had made the ball stop on the Indians and also generated prodigious turn and held the hosts to 67/5 in their quota of overs. It was a middling total at the most — but how can anyone say with conviction what a good score is for an international match reduced to only 8 overs each.
Common wisdom suggests that the more truncated a match is, the more a team can work around its deficiencies. But when you have the likes of Chahal and Bumrah in the mix, common wisdom is thrown out of the window. It’s about keeping your nerve. And like they have shown repeatedly this season, it’s easier said than done against Chahal and Bumrah on a day Kohli & Co found a way to win, one more time.
Brief Scores: India 67/5 in 8 overs (Manish Pandey 17 off 11 balls, Hardik Pandya 14 off 10; Tim Southee 2/13, Ish Sodhi 2/23) beat New Zealand 61/6 in 8 overs (Colin de Grandhomme 17 not out off 10; Glenn Phillips 11 off 9; Jasprit Bumrah 2/9) by six runs.