India was down and almost out yet again, but kept their spirits and hopes up to make another stirring comeback to wipe out the Blacks Caps 5-0. The Kiwis batting second needed just 66 off 60 with seven wickets in hand when the slide started. Navdeep Saini produced the turning point to get Tim Seifert caught at short midwicket. In the next over, Bumrah yorked Darryl Mitchell and the Indians were back in the match.
New Zealand has never lost all the matches in longer T20I series (three or more games) but is in danger of losing that record thanks to their inept finishing in this series. However, even if India win the fifth game, they’d still be placed only at the fifth spot in the international T20I team rankings. The Indians would like to continue with their experimentation for the big T20I world cup later this year in Australia.
Virat Kohli or KL Rahul may be rested and Rishabh Pant brought in. Rahul will assuredly keep the wickets in the ODI games, so he may be given a rest. Samson would need to display more patience and try to get his eye in before going for the big shots. Dube’s footwork is poor and he seems more keen on hoicking everything to the legside. But his bowling has been reasonably tidy and the selectors may give him a few more chances to check if he can cut it.
Rishabh Pant has become out of favor thanks to Rahul’s heroics with the bat and ‘keeping gloves. He’d like to keep himself in contention by proving his worth if he’s given a chance. On the bowling front, Shami may return to provide Bumrah much needed rest. Kuldeep Yadav may also get a look-in as he’s an important player in India’s white-ball plans.
For the Kiwis, Kane Williamson seems to have recuperated from his left shoulder injury and could return to lead the side. New Zealand’s management is confident that he is ready to play the game. Mount Maunganui is Williamson country and his scores of fans would love to see him score big on his home territory.
Colin Munro excelled with the bat in the fourth match and he has a great track record at Mount Maunganui, scoring at an average of 61.40 in five innings at a stunning strike rate of 193. The Kiwis have won laurels for their sportsmanship but a question mark has arisen over their ability to win close matches. They should take every opportunity to put the doubts to rest starting with this game.
The ground at Mount Maunganui has windy conditions that help swing bowling. However, the surface is a belter with good bounce and carry. The team winning the toss would prefer to bat first as the first batting side has won all the five matches here. Given India’s dominance, we predict that they’re going to sew up a brownwash here.
The Kiwis needed just 7 runs off the last regulation over but they contrived to mess it up again. Shardul Thakur pulled off a Mohammed Shami and effected four outs including two run outs to take the game into the Super Over. The Kiwis have themselves to blame as they could not provide the finishing touches when needed despite being ahead all through the match.
Bumrah bowled India’s Super Over and had two difficult catches missed. The Kiwis rattled off 13 in the six balls but they were comprehensively beaten by Rahul’s expertise and Kohli’s experience as the Indians met the target in five deliveries. Rahul smacked a six and four off the first two balls and then skied one to deep midwicket. Kohli smartly took a couple by placing the ball in the gap and then smote the fifth ball consummately to the boundary to pull off another exciting win.
When the Indians batted first after being put in, Samson was disappointing scoring just 8 off 5. The Indians lost wickets at regular intervals and were down 6-88 in the 12th over. Only Rahul was the redeeming point with 39 off 26 to maintain his consistent form. Manish Pandey stepped up when it counted and put together 43 valuable runs for the 7th wicket with Shardul Thakur who contributed 20 off 15.
In fact, Pandey stayed till the end and finished with 50 off 36 to give India a fighting chance. Besides Samson, Dube and Washington Sundar also failed to capitalize on this great opportunity to impress. As a result, India looked 15-20 runs short. Santner and Sodhi choked the Indian innings returning collective figures of 4-52 in their eight overs.
In the Kiwi chase, Guptill failed with the bat but Munro and Seifert lifted their games and put together 74 for the second wicket to keep their team on track. Munro blasted 64 off 47 and Seifert 57 off 39. For the Indians, Bumrah was amazing once again returning 1-20 in his four overs. Washington Sundar failed with the ball too going for 24 in two overs. Saini was better leaking just 29 runs in his four overs.
The Kiwis were well placed to win the match going into the final over but things went awry for them once again. Shardul Thakur bowled brilliantly to mess up the finish for the hosts. For his all-round effort of 20 off 15 with the bat and 2-33 off 4 overs with the ball, Thakur was declared player of the match.
With the T20I series in the bag, India will look to provide opportunities to their bench with the view of preparing for the upcoming T20I world cup. At the same time, they’d like to maintain their winning streak and stranglehold over the Kiwis. Shami or Bumrah is likely to be rested in favor of Navdeep Saini. Kuldeep Yadav or Washington Sundar may be given a chance replacing Jadeja or Chahal. Sanju Samson would also be looking forward to playing a game.
However, Kohli and Shastri have a win-all mentality and would like to score a 5-0 victory over the Kiwis. Therefore, they may limit the experimentation and continue with more of the regulars to boost competitiveness. Sundar has been included in Kohli’s new ball plans for vast Australian grounds on which the T20I world cup will be held. Therefore, he may be given a preference in game 4.
Bumrah plays in India’s teams in all three formats and typically has a heavy workload. He may be given rest especially given the fact that he is returning from injury. Kohli and Rohit may play alternately in the last two games to give chances to the reserve batters. In addition, Pandey and Dube may also get better look-ins.
New Zealand has selected batsman Tom Bruce to replace Colin de Grandhomme who was a disappointment in the three matches. Given his great form, Williamson may well move to open with Martin Guptill pushing Colin Munro to number three. Mitchell Santner can be expected to play an important role in this match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve. This is because of his excellent record here with nine victims in five games at under six runs per over.
Santner was also sent up the order in the third game to boost the scoring rate and would like to contribute handsomely with bat too. Batting first is preferable at the Westpac Stadium as the side electing to bat first has emerged victorious in four of the last five games here. Teams batting first have scored an average of 178 here in those five matches.
A clear day has been forecast but the wind also plays a big role always at this open ground. The Kiwis have won six T20Is on the trot at this venue going back to 2014. In total, they have eight T20I victories here which is their highest number at any ground.
Both sides would not like to let up and will want to go hard at each other. We predict an Indian victory because of their excellent bench strength.