India complete whitewash with convincing win over New Zealand
- Big hitting by Indian batsmen in powerplay and death overs make the difference as visitors lose by 73 runs; lose three-match 3-0.
Like Pakistan did twice in the World T20, to test their bowlers in defending totals, India chose to bat after Rohit Sharma clean swept the toss in this three-match T20I series. It was also to give the middle-order a chance, said Sharma explaining the decision to Murali Karthik on television. That didn’t quite come off but, if India still got to 184/7 on way to this 73-run win, it was because of how they began and ended.
Sharma and Ishan Kishan—one of the two changes in the team; the other being Yuzvendra Chahal for Ravichandran Ashwin—began in fifth gear. On Sunday, Sharma got the Eden Gardens shaking with the innings’ second ball, a thick outside edge off Trent Boult for four past the lone slip. Next ball, same result: this time a more controlled square-drive over point.
As Adam Milne gave him width, Kishan got a boundary off the first ball he faced. He ended the over with a steer that also fetched a boundary, making light of Milne trying to surprise him with pace. Next over had Boult bouncing invitingly at Sharma’s legs and the India skipper brought out the shot that pays a lot of bills—the pull—over square-leg for six. Two balls later Boult overpitched and this time, Kishan flicked for four. India continued to cruise through the powerplay, Lockie Ferguson going for 10 in the fourth over; Sharma hitting him for the second of his three sixes over long-off. Milne went for 10 in the fifth bowling on both sides of the wicket and Kishan hitting successive boundaries with an off-drive followed by a flick.
A good power play became great when the openers creamed 20 off Ferguson, who returned from a Grade 2 calf muscle tear that had him missing the World T20. The first and last balls were attempted yorkers that missed the mark and were converted into boundaries by Sharma who had pulled the fifth ball for six. In between, Kishan swung Ferguson for a four.
That was the innings’ most expensive over and India ended the power play at 69/0. The next best over for India was the 20th, bowled by Milne. Deepak Chahar hit two fours and a six on way to an eight-ball 21 that again highlighted New Zealand’s inability to get it right through the innings. The spinners, Mitchell Santner, who stood in as captain for Tim Southee, and Ish Sodhi had reined India in. Between the seventh and the 19th overs, there were only two overs, the 11th and the 14th, that went for more than 10.
Santner dismissed Kishan with an arm ball and Surya Kumar Yadav with a superb, loopy delivery that induced an uppish drive. He dismissed Rishabh Pant in the next over and after bowling half his quota had figures of 2-0-7-3. Sharma went next but only because Sodhi had stuck out his right hand like he was hailing a cab and had a ball smashed back nestling into it. By then, Sharma had notched up another half-century at Eden Gardens making 56 (31 balls; 4x5; 6x3). The Iyers, Venkatesh and Shreyas, added 36 in 21 balls but fell off successive deliveries and it was left to Chahar to take the asking rate over nine.
New Zealand would have needed Martin Guptill to bat from both ends to make a match of this. Let off by Chahar off his own bowling on 16, Guptill made 51 (33 balls; 4x4; 6x4). But he got no support. Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman and Glenn Phillips let their ambition get the better of the situation and fell to Axar Patel after Sharma introduced spin in the third over. Tim Seifert and Santner were run out; Santner off a superb direct throw from Kishan. With Venkatesh Iyer acquainting himself well in the sixth bowler’s role, it proved to be a night where India did little wrong on way to a 3-0 win with a new coach and captain in charge.
Coach Rahul Dravid said it was important to stay grounded pointing out that the series wouldn’t have been easy for New Zealand coming off a World T20 final. “But it was good to see some of the young guys come through. It will give us options in a long season till the next World Cup,” he said.