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India cruise to 3-0 clean sweep as Rohit and young guns shine !
Good teams play well when conditions favour them but great teams do well even when the odds are stacked against them.
In extremely dewy conditions, the Indian team challenged itself to bat first after winning the toss – though most teams would have preferred to chase.
The surprise move was inspired by the idea of testing their bowlers under difficult conditions after the batsmen would hopefully post a stiff target on board.
At the historic Eden Gardens, Team India executed the plan to perfection. In the process they displayed that the early exit from the World Cup was just be an aberration and the team has a core competence that promises a bright future ahead in the shortest format.
The result spoke about the one-sidedness of this series as India massacred New Zealand by 73 runs and swept the series 3-0. If tosses could win matches, Rohit Sharma should have been made India’s T20 Captain much earlier.
His lucky streak continued as he won the third toss in a row and revealed that India were playing Ishan Kishan and Yuzi Chahal as the seasoned KL Rahul and R Ashwin were rested ahead of the test series.
India’s batting was at it’s belligerent best as both Rohit and Kishan looked to hit anything pitched up.
With Rohit being his fluent self and Ishan giving aggressive company, India raced to 69 without loss in the PowerPlay. While Rohit pulverized the Kiwis with his power hitting, including two 6s of his favourite pull shot, it was a special delight to see Ishan’s breezy knock.
In his first game since flopping against the Kiwis in the crucial World Cup game last month, Ishan helped his skipper lay an ideal foundation for the Men in Blue.
The introduction of leftarm spinner Mitchell Santner, who led the Kiwis in this game, had an immediate impact as he picked up Ishan and Suryakumar Yadav in his very first over. With Rishabh Pant soon becoming Santner’s third victim through an ugly hoick, Team India was suddenly 83 for 3 as it’s middle order woes continued.
With the imperious Rohit falling to a brilliant one-handed reflex catch by Ish Sodhi, India was reduced to 103-4 though they were still scoring at above 9 runs an over
. A series of cameos by Team India’s Young Guns, however, ensured that the momentum of the innings never slackened.
First the two Iyers - Shreyas and Venkatesh – provided risk-free batting and hit pleasing 20s to guide India through the middle overs.
Later, Harshal Patel and Deepak Chahar hit some lusty blows to display the advantage of greater depth in batting.
Though the cameos powered India to a healthy 183, it is undeniable that there is a lot of room for improvement in the middle order.
As they wobbled again around the 15-16th over mark, it was the late order flourish that ensured an above par total to defend.Repeated stutters in the middle overs are an area that Team India needs to rectify on priority. When the Kiwis came out to bat, Axar Patel rocked their run-chase with a brilliant spell.
Once he picked up three quick wickets, the Kiwis were pegged back decisively. Despite a fine 50 from Guptill, New Zealand never recovered and were bowled out for a paltry 111, giving India their biggest-ever win in terms of runs against the Kiwis in T20 games.
While the entire bowling unit functioned like a welloiled machine, the spell by Venkatesh Iyer was particularly pleasing. Brought in as a seam-bowling all-rounder to replace Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh had not been asked to bowl so far.
But in his first three overs for Team India he was tight, accurate and full of variations. As he even picked up a wicket, Iyer seemed like a youngster of much promise that India should persist with.
The 3-0 clean sweep against the T20 World Cup finalists is a fine start for the new captaincoach combo of Rohit and Rahul. However, Dravid was in no mood to overstate the victory.
In his usual mature and realistic style, he pointed out that the Kiwis were a side full of fatigue as they had played this series within days of the T20 World Cup final. Besides the impressive results, it’s the positives that will keep the spirits high after the debacle in the UAE.
The amazing resurgence of Ravichandran Ashwin, the swing and control of Bhuvneshwar Kumar who is getting his mojo back, and the promise of debutants Venkatesh Iyer and Harshal Patel are major gains for India.
The encouraging results and the unearthing of more options ahead of next year’s World Cup are a giant step in the right direction.
And of course, Rohit Sharma’s calm and collected leadership is a bonus that may enable India to deliver under pressure.
Overall, India were never seriously troubled in this series which is quite impressive given that New Zealand had beaten India in all three world championship formats in the past two years.
As the sides get ready to lock horns in the Test series beginning on Thursday, the crushing defeats in the T20 format may be quite demoralising for the Kiwis. India would be keen to take this confidence and clean sweep the test series too!!
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL