Second time in two games, New Zealand came close to winning. Second time in two games, they needed two to win off three. Second time in two games, they choked. Second time in two games, the match went into a Super Over. And for the second time in two games, New Zealand messed it up for India to emerge winners.
In an eerily similar conclusion to the fourth T20I, New Zealand failed to get over the line in Wellington. Both teams finished on 165, and even with New Zealand needing to knock off seven off the last over, Shardul Thakur bowled a fine final over to concede six. Two needed off the final ball, Mitchell Santner and Scott Kuggeleijn ran a single and the match was a tie.
The Super Over was no less drama. India dropped two chances off the first three balls off Jasprit Bumrah, but managed to hold on to the fourth, but a boundary each to Colin Munro and Tim Seifert, the two men who at different points, had powered New Zealand’s chase with half-centuries, gave their side 12.
With Rohit Sharma rested, Virat Kohli jogged out with KL Rahul, who hit a six and a four, but holed out in the next. Kohli and Samson ran a smart double, and the Indian captain extended India’s lead in the series to 4-0 with a boundary.
Munro and Seifert’s half-centuries, coupled by Ish Sodhi’s 3/26 helped New Zealand tie with India. Manish Pandey’s resilient half-century lifted India from a dodgy 84/5 to 164/8, but in the absence of Kane Williamson – out with a shoulder niggle – Seifert, batting at No. 3, forged a couple of vital fifty-plus stands with Munro and Ross Taylor which almost saw New Zealand through.
India bowled three excellent overs up front, giving away just 12. But there onward, Munro tucked into the Indian attack. From his forgettable outing the other night in Wellington, Bumrah looked a lot more assured in his bowling, providing India an early breakthrough making Martin Guptill top edge to KL Rahul.
Thakur is whom Munro targetted to get New Zealand’s chase off the blocks. 14 off the first three balls got New Zealand going after which there was no stopping Munro. Washington Sundar, playing his first match of the tour, was slapped for a six and two boundaries in his first two overs, the first of which brought up the left-hander’s half-century and the 50-run stand between Munro and Seifert.
It took a bloody special bit of an effort for India to see the back of Munro. Returning for a second run, Munro failed to notice that Kohli came in line of Thakur’s throw from sweeper cover to grab the ball. Ambling for the second, by the time Munro could realise, he was too far from the crease which allowed Kohli to score with a direct hit.
If his dismissal didn’t give India a sniff, Yuzvendra Chahal bowling Tom Bruce round his leg surely did. But Seifert ensured New Zealand did not lose steam, and took over where Munro left. India did their bit to not let Seifert escape. In the 15th over, India put him down twice in two balls off Chahal. Navdeep Saini guided the ball over the rope running in from long on and next ball, Bumrah grassed a reverse sweep at short third man.
Seifert rode his luck as couple of leading edges fell in no man’s land. Like Munro, spinners were his easy targets, creaming maximums off Sundar and Chahal while clearing his front legs. He endured a few plays and misses but slashed a four past point to bring up his second T20 fifty. India pushed the match to the last over, with Saini bowling a splendid, fiery penultimate over giving away just three. Bowling the final over, Thakur snared two wickets to go with a run-out to force the match into the deciding over.
Stand-in captain Tim Southee showed no hesitation in winning the toss and bowling first. Samson, opening the innings, showed ominous signs slapping a six off Scott Kuggeleijn, but his joy didn’t last as he perished to a good catch from Mitchell Santner. KL Rahul took over and gave Indian an early impetus. Kuggeleijn was erratic, conceding a free hit for the Indian opener to go big.
Kohli introduced Hamish Bennett with back-to-back boundaries but the knuckle ball next up did the trick. Kohli, trying to work the ball on the onside, offered a leading edge for Santner to take his second catch. Despite India bringing up the 50 in five overs, the spinners tied them down. Sodhi dismissed a scratchy-looking Iyer out caught behind and got the big wicket of Rahul, who didn’t get the timing right behind his pull and found the deep midwicket fielder – Santner, who took his third catch.
Shivam Dube walked ahead of Pandey, and when he struck back to back boundaries off Kuggeleijn, the call seemed a sensible one. But once again, a poor shot selection led to an Indian batsman’s demise. Dube mistimed a slog sweep and holed out to Bruce at long on even with a slight collision.
Sundar was knocked over by Santner, before India finally found a partnership going. Thakur and Manish Pandey saw off the spin threat and decided to go after in the last five overs. Both added 43 off 29 to put India somewhat back on track. The scoring rate reached more than eight an over, with Pandey and Thakur getting three entertaining boundaries between them.
Thakur cleared the front leg and swung his bat for a boundary on the up but Bennett once again scored with the knuckle ball two balls later, and when Southee snuffed out Chahal caught behind, India looked in danger of getting bowled out. But Saini’s two fours in three balls to get India over 150. Pandey struck a boundary off the first ball of the final over and he and Saini collected seven off the final five.