An astonishing display of batting from Rohit Sharma - who scored a 21-ball fifty - was not enough for team India to seal victory as the Kiwis beat them for the second time in two days to assert their authority. For the Blackcaps, it was once again the spin twins Sodhi and Santer who did the trick.
High on confidence coming on the back of three consecutive wins, the Kiwis opted to bat first against an Indian side hungry for revenge, and made their intentions clear right from ball one. Guptill and Munro showed utter disrespect to the new ball to get their side off to a flyer, and, despite losing the southpaw, the Kiwis, thanks to a solid Williamson-Guptill stand, hurried to 140/3 in no time. India somewhat pulled things back at the death, but a loose final over from Navdeep Saini meant that the Kiwis wrestled the momentum back as the Blackcaps accumulated 187, batting first.
Chasing 188, Rohit Sharma switched on ‘God mode’ from the very first over and remarkably smacked 22 runs off his first six balls to leave the Kiwis shell shocked. Alongside Rahul, he carried on to take India to a score of 74 at the end of the powerplay, but Rohit’s dismissal triggered a shift in momentum no one quite saw coming. Skipper Kohli departed for a duck soon after and post the seven-over mark, India were choked by the duo of Sodhi and Santner, who combinedly picked five wickets. Eventually, the New Zealand bowlers’ discipline proved too much for India’s lower-order batsmen, as the Men in Blue fell 16 runs short of the target.
Rohit Sharma got India off to the most surreal start possible, but his dismissal in the fifth over turned out to be a dagger in the heart of the Indians. Despite the Mumbaikar having laid the platform for the rest to take the team over the line, the other batsmen simply were not able to get hold of the game and that ended up being catastrophic for the Men in Blue. Post Rohit’s dismissal, India ended up scoring just 104 runs off 15.1 overs to end up on the losing side.
Highs and Lows
Rohit Sharma is generally the kind of player who likes to take his time versus the new ball, but not today. After threatening to do so - playing a dot on his first ball - Rohit remarkably finished the very first over off the chase with four fours and a six, taking 22 off Trent Boult. Yep, you did not read that wrong - TWENTY TWO RUNS off the very first over. Not just a highlight in this game, but one of the great moments in SRL history.
India’s failure to capitalize on their extraordinary start was a real bummer. At 74/2 at the end of the powerplay, the Men in Blue had a golden opportunity to ravage the Kiwis and set the stage alight, yet they bizarrely opted for the more conservative approach, killing off all the momentum they’d generated.
Powerplay exploitation: New Zealand 10/10 and India 10/10
India’s last two games in the SRL has seen batting sides struggle in the powerplay, however, things took a wild turn for the good today. Picking up the pieces from where they left on Tuesday, Martin Guptill and Colin Munro entered today’s encounter in ‘slaughter mode’ and mercilessly butchered the Indian pacers up front to set the tone for the game. In a phase were dot balls were few and far between, Guptill and Munro combinedly struck a remarkable TEN boundaries to propel the Kiwis to 64/0 at the end of the sixth over. A killer start.
0 4 4 4 4 6 - this was India’s response to New Zealand in the very first over of the chase. Rohit Sharma pulled off arguably the greatest cameo in SRL history, as he, en route to a 21-ball fifty inside the powerplay, manhandled the Kiwi pacers, making it look like he was batting against a bunch of 40-year-old uncles at the maidans of Mumbai. Together, he and Rahul hit an astonishing 13 boundaries to bring the required rate to 8.14 at the end of the powerplay. The Kiwis had the last laugh, though, as they got the wickets of Rohit and Kohli in the final two powerplay overs. 74/2 was India’s score at the end of the 6th over. Madness.
Middle-overs manoeuvring: New Zealand 8/10 and India 4/10
After getting off to a rollicking start, New Zealand had one job in the middle overs: to not find themselves in a tangle against the spin of India. And they did not get off to the most ideal of starts, losing Munro in just the 8th over, but for the second day running, a combination of Guptill’s aggression and Williamson’s composure helped sail the Kiwi ship smoothly. Jadeja sorting his discipline meant that the runs dried out for the Kiwis - they scored 76 in this phase - but through their smartness, they set themselves the perfect platform to launch towards the end.
If India’s display in the powerplay overs was an action film which stretched things to the extreme, their display in the middle overs was a slow-burning family drama which made the viewers go to sleep. The nine-over phase between overs 6 and 15, for India, flabbergastingly yielded just 64 runs, and in this phase, the Men in Blue lost no less than three wickets to inflict further misery onto themselves. The show was run by the spin duo of Sodhi and Santner, who made the Indians dance to their tunes, but the lack of intent from the Indians was a bit disappointing to see.
Death bowling:- India 5/10 and New Zealand 10/10
India’s erratic performance at the death cost them dear in their clash against the Kiwis on Tuesday, and the Men in Blue, today, ensured that they corrected all the wrongs from the previous encounter - at least for four overs. In what was a supreme display of death bowling for a vast majority of the phase, despite having two well set batsmen ready to cut loose, India did remarkably well to concede just 33 runs in the first 4, but undid their good work by leaking 14 off the final over. The damage was done from the bat of Williamson, who ended unbeaten on 47 to propel the Kiwis’ score to 187.
With needing 50 off the final 5 overs, having last five wickets already, the game was in the hands of the Kiwi bowlers and the death overs started off in the perfect manner for the Blackcaps, who sent danger man Pandya back to the hut. All they needed to do from there was to ensure that they did not do anything stupid - in the sense, give away free runs - and the trio of Sodhi, Boult and Ferguson did it with elan. India simply were not able to dispatch the balls to the boundary and eventually, fell short of the target by 16 runs.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Very good
The match did die towards the end, but that took nothing away from the 30 overs of extraordinary entertainment it provided. The two finest hitters of our generation - Guptill and Rohit - put on a show to send the fans into an absolute frenzy. An A+ exhibition of T20 batting.