MOUNT MAUNGANUI: A 5-0 whitewash will be on the mind when Virat Kohli and his boys take on New Zealand in the final T20I at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday. For the hosts, it will be all about playing for pride after they lost the third and fourth T20I in the Super Over, having dominated majority of the game in both the encounters.
India skipper Kohli has often spoken about the need to keep the winning momentum going when it comes to the shortest format of the game and that is exactly what his team has been doing against the Kiwis in this 5-match series.
While Mohammed Shami stole the show in the third T20I with a brilliant last over - defending the nine runs that the Kiwis needed with Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor at the crease - it was Shardul Thakur who stole the show in Friday's encounter, defending just seven runs and picking two wickets.
The Kiwis clearly choked under pressure as they lost as many as four wickets in the 20th over in Wellington. More importantly, stand-in skipper Tim Southee once again failed to defend New Zealand's score in the Super Over after failing against the might of Rohit Sharma in the third T20I.
The biggest positive for the Indian from the game was how the team fought it out and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat despite resting senior campaigners Rohit Sharma, Shami and Ravindra Jadeja. In fact, Kohli had made it clear after sealing the series in Seddon Park that he would try the reserves in the last two games with an eye on the World T20 in Australia at the end of the year.
And even after Friday's win, he praised the efforts of the three youngsters in Sanju Samson, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar. "I thought Sanju was fearless. This was his chance to take things away. I think Washy has played a lot, and Saini rushed the batsmen," he said after the game.
While India's young guns stood up to the challenge, the Kiwis will want their experienced campaigners to come good and ensure that they don't hand India a series whitewash. In Williamson's absence, Colin Munro and Tim Seifert did a great job, but someone like Ross Taylor needed to bring in his experience and finish the game for the hosts with just seven needed in the final over.
Moreover, Southee's form with the ball will be a big cause of concern for the hosts and they will want him to make amends for the two poor outings in the Super Overs of the third and fourth game. With the series already in India's bag, it will be a case of avoiding a humiliating 5-0 loss for the hosts even as Kohli and his boys will once again look to hit the fifth gear from the word go.
Hopefully for the Kiwis, regular skipper Kane Williamson will be fit to take the field in the final T20I as the team clearly missed his experience in the fourth game on Friday.
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul (wk), Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Kuggeleijn, Colin Munro, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Bruce, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Hamish Bennett, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner