Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ind vs NZ T20I: Virat Kohli and Co gear up in series deciding match today

Rajkot: Of all the foreign teams visiting India in the recent past, only New Zealand have given the hosts a run for their money. But even the dangerous Kiwis, who came close to winning the three-match ODI series, have found Virat Kohli's rampaging Indians too hot to handle.

Virat Kohli

The conspicuous absence of the famed Kiwi fighting spirit in the first T20 game in New Delhi on Wednesday allowed India to taste their maiden triumph against New Zealand in the game's shortest version.

As India and New Zealand clash in the second T20 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here today, the hosts look hot favourites to clinch the series.

With the SCA stadium wicket appearing fairly uncomplicated and considering the form the triumvirate of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli are in, the New Zealand bowlers may be in for yet another tough outing irrespective of India setting or chasing the target.

Fans are hoping that Rohit, who seems to be at the pinnacle of his prowess and batted like a dream against the Kiwis in the last two matches, will strike gold here too.

The Mumbai batsman may have dealt a crushing blow to the confidence of the New Zealand bowlers. Trent Boult and Tim Southee are fine new-ball bowlers, but the Indian top order has rendered them, particularly Southee, utterly ineffective.

New Zealand spinners, including Mitchell Santner, have also been toothless. The Rajkot pitch may add to the Kiwis' collective woes.

NZ pacer Trent Boult during a training session in Rajkot. Pic/PTI

The New Zealand batsmen, who came a cropper in Delhi, chasing a mammoth target, will have to show greater application, character and hunger for runs to counter the in-form Indian speedsters and spinners even on a batting-friendly wicket.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel have given them no respite, both when striking individually and collectively.

"New Zealand have some very good and experienced batsmen. But we have special strategies for them and we try to bowl keeping in mind where they are likely to err," said Axar Patel at a media conference.

Although Tom Latham and Ross Taylor chipped in with useful scores in the limited overs series, they are still way behind their Indian counterparts. The Kiwis badly need a big innings from captain Kane Williamson, who has scored just 101 runs from three ODIs and a T20I.

"We have to improve in certain areas. We are confident of putting up an improved performance. The series is not over yet," said leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.

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