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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

India vs New Zealand: T20 decider set for ODI thriller repeat, rain permitting

Thiruvananthapuram’s Greenfield Stadium will become India’s 50th international cricket venue on Tuesday when the hosts play New Zealand in the deciding T20 tie.

india-vs-new-zealand-2017 Updated: Nov 06, 2017 18:41 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
India and New Zealand will battle it out for the T20I series in Tuesday’s decider in Thiruvananthapuram.
India and New Zealand will battle it out for the T20I series in Tuesday’s decider in Thiruvananthapuram. (PTI)

The series tied 1-1, Colin Munro and Trent Boult the Kiwi knights in shining armour, Virat Kohli’s urge to win yet another series and chatter about MS Dhoni facing an inexplicable number of dot balls has provided the third and final Twenty20 between India and New Zealand all ingredients for a spicy encounter on Tuesday.

But wait, there’s a disclaimer: the possibility of not getting to see any action as the rain god looms large over Thiruvananthapuram, which can’t wait to get its first taste of international cricket in almost three decades.

Heavy showers were experienced for the fourth consecutive day on Monday. Both India and New Zealand skipped training at the venue.

The lush green Greenfield International Stadium though is set to become India’s 50th international cricket venue. And it is more than ready to host the match on what is expected to be a good batting track.

READ | India vs New Zealand: Heavy rain continues, third Twenty20 under threat

Fighting Kiwis

Keeping aside factors that can’t be controlled by the players, the deciding T20 is expected to be an exciting contest with the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand side giving a tough fight to the hosts, like in the third and final ODI, which they lost by a mere six runs.

Munro played well in the Kanpur ODI on October 29 for his 75, but the left-hander really came into his own on Saturday to become the only cricketer to hit two T20 centuries in a calendar year.

Indian batsmen will have to be wary of Boult, who has the knack of picking wickets each time he comes into the attack for the Black Caps.

From the Indian perspective, the spotlight will be on MS Dhoni. There was a lot criticism of the former India captain’s batting in the second T20 loss at Rajkot. Though he scored a 37-ball 49, which included three sixes and two fours, it was not the Dhoni Indian fans are used to.

READ | Virat Kohli gets a special wish from the Adelaide Oval

Dhoni’s waning prowess

So much so that former cricketers Ajit Agarkar and VVS Laxman raised questions about Dhoni’s spot in the playing XI. While Agarkar said India should look at other wicketkeeper-batsman options, Laxman felt the 36-year-old Dhoni should make way for youngsters in T20s.

One has to admit the 2007 World T20-winning captain doesn’t have the arsenal – teeing off from the word go --that was his USP earlier, something the man himself admitted not so long ago. But whether his time is up is something only MS Dhoni may decide.

Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have another issue to sort out – who will be India’s fifth bowler. The hosts played rookie pacer Mohammad Siraj in place of the retired Ashish Nehra in Rajkot, but the 23-year-old proved very costly, conceding 53 runs in his four overs.

Dropping the Hyderabad player right after debut could severely jolt his confidence. But then India have a series to win, and the team’s priorities come before any individual’s emotion or career.

Whatever transpires, the Thiruvananthapuram game has all the ingredients to be a thriller. What it needs is some respite from the heavens.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 18:38 IST

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