Despite being the favorites based on current form and venue, their home, India had a history of defeats to defy against the Kiwis in the T20 match of the series. Yuvi’s return to international match served the right boost. India’s old nemesis McCullum succeeded, but returning after a gap Vettori failed. Still New Zealand managed to win a thriller. Indian and Kiwi fans kept pondering if New Zealand won it or Dhoni gifted them the match!!
Brendum McCullum was again the key tormentor. Scoring his 3rd consecutive half-century agaainst India in T20s, he missed his century by 9 runs, scoring 91 runs in only 55 balls with 3 sixes and 11 boundaries. In the process he became the first batsman to score 10 50-plus scores in Twenty20 internationals. His success against India continued. Earlier he has scored 31-ball 45 runs, 49-ball unbeaten 56 runs, 55-ball unbeaten 69 runs.
Alongwith Kane Williamson he added 92 runs for third wicket. This is the highest partnership in India-New Zealand T20 matches. Williamson joined him when Kiwis had lost 2 wickets for 2 runs in 1.3 overs. With 90 runs added in 11 overs they had put Kiwis running on the road to high total, but Indian bowlers decent performance in the last 5 overs kept the total to 167/5 in 20 overs.
Earlier 76 runs opening partnership between Sehwag and Gambhir scored during the 2007 World Cup loss in 5.5 overs was the best between these two teams. For New Zealand, 73 runs between McMillan and Oram for the 7th wicket in the same match was the best partnership.
Indian chase started in the same fashion. Gambhir went early but Raina and Kohli got India in strong position. Before committing suicide, Kohli’s 41-ball 70 runs has put India in a position of dominating victory. When Kohli tried heroics of hitting another big shot, rather uselessly at that phase, and holed out to Southee on the bowling of Franklin who emerged as the best bowler of the day from both teams, India had 7 wickets and needed easy 47 runs 40 balls.
Captain Dhoni’s effort to promote him ahead of Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary boozed confidence among Indians. But soon everyone realized Dhoni’s penchant for turning easy situations into tense one and losing it more often than winning was going to prove costly.
As the Requried Net Run Rate keep peaking to almost 14 runs an over, Dhoni and Yuvraj appeared helpless hardly managing singles. Then in the final over with 13 runs needed Franklin’s smart bowling variation earned him Yuvi’s wicket and then came Rohit Sharma, lacking confidence already he has a steep chase with 6 runs required on the 2 balls he faced and his strokes could earn India 4 runs and with Dhoni remained unbeaten on other end. His fans can again claim that unlucky captain did not get the strike.
Probably India would do itself big favor to find answer of two questions, among many, to lay its claim on T20 World Cup:
1. Was it the right decision to send confidence-lacking Rohit Sharma to face last two balls, when Manoj Tiwary and Irfan Pathan were already waiting!!
2. Why did Dhoni want to send Rohit Sharma on strike for the last ball despite knowing that he is more settled batsman there and India needed 5 runs (if he had taken just a single)!! He knew very well that Rohit Sharma lacked confidence (not the ability though based on past performances)!!