THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Winning a series in India has always been a tough task for visiting teams. The Kiwis would be eying to accomplish this rare feat when they square off against India in the third and final T20I at the Greenfield International Stadium here on Tuesday.
The Kiwis nearly broke this jinx at Kanpur in the third and final ODI where they came tantalizingly close to India’s score of 337 but fell six runs short of what could have been a brilliant victory.
Once again, the Kiwis are facing a decider, this time in totally different conditions and on an untried wicket. Thiruvananthapuram has been witnessing heavy rains and nobody knows how the wicket will behave. Yet, the Black Caps feel they can do it.
“Last year we didn’t put up a performance like we would’ve wanted. But we are playing pretty good cricket at the moment and would like to look at the positives. India is a pretty tough place to come but we have a chance to take the series 2-1 and we are excited about that,” said Mitchell Santner.
The southpaw felt India have played very good cricket for a long time now.
“They are very tough to beat in home conditions. We have taken it to the decider in the last two series. Both teams will feel the pressure and would want to win. It is about performing on the day. They played well in Kanpur under pressure. We have to play the best we can and perform our roles.”
However, Santner felt that they would have to play Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar better if they have to shed the ‘chokers’ tag. “Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar bowled well. Bumrah is good at bowling at the death as he can hit the holes easily and also got very good change-ups,” Santner said.
India, on the other hand, will be hoping to get rid of the dangerous Colin Munro at the earliest. “There are several good players like Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill, but Munro has been the one playing consistently,” said Bhuvneshwar.
Bhuvi also backed MS Dhoni and said the former skipper’s presence is vital for the team. “If you look at the stats, he has been doing well. He is a legend and his presence is vital to the side,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources hinted Axar Patel might miss the match due to injury. The left-arm spinner played the first two matches. Kuldeep Yadav is a likely replacement.
Pros & cons
New Zealand have succeeded where even Australia failed. After taking the ODI series to the last game, they have done it again in the T20 leg too. Colin Munro has made life difficult for India bowlers, while Trent Boult has been getting early wickets. For the hosts, the previous game exposed their weak middle-order, and MS Dhoni is under pressure to perform better here. It remains to be seen if pacer Mohammed Siraj gets another game.
Pitch & conditions
Thiruvananthapuram is hosting its first international game in 29 years and the pitch is expected to be full of runs. Kerala’s capital city has been experiencing intermittent showers for the last few days and the match too could be affected by rain.
Stars to watch
The aggressive Mumbai batsman was in good nick during his 23 in Rajkot. Good innings in the decider will help him stay in team India radar.
The Auckland native’s resume includes an ODI double-century & a T20I hundred, but he is yet to cross fifty in this tour. His 45 in the previous game was vital & a big knock is perhaps around the corner.