India had already won the 5 match T20 series against the Kiwis before they took the field at Mount Maunganui on Feb 2. They were 4-0 up and decided to rest captain Virat Kohli as India has a long tour ahead of them with a 3 match ODI series coming up followed by 2 tests.
India Get To A Modest Total
Rohit Sharma who missed the 4th T20 returned for the final T20 and took over the captaincy from Kohli. India won the toss and decided to bat first. They decided to experiment with their opening combination and gave Sanju Samson the opportunity to open with KL Rahul while Sharma dropped down to 3. The experiment did not work as Samson faced just 5 balls before he was back in the shed.
Sharma and Rahul then put together a good partnership and were looking to open up when Rahul got out and Sharma followed soon after as he had to retire hurt. India lost momentum with their two set batsmen going in quick succession and found it hard to score quickly towards the end. They managed to get to 163 in their allotted 20 overs which was a decent score but certainly not out of the Kiwis’ reach.
Kiwis Fail To Capitalize
New Zealand also decided to rest their captain Kane Williamson and in the end his absence could have cost the Kiwis a victory. The Kiwis did not have a great start as they lost Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Tom Bruce for just 17 runs. India was in command of the game until Sharma decided to throw the ball to all-rounder Shivam Dube.
The Kiwis took 34 runs of his 6 balls as he was dispatched to all parts of the ground. That one over changed the complexion of the game and put the Kiwis in the driving seat. Tim Seifert and the experienced Ross Taylor put together a great partnership and should have won the game for New Zealand.
Navdeep Saini once again showed why he should definitely be on the plane to Australia to play in the T20 World Cup. He not only sent down an economical spell to put the breaks on the Kiwis but also picked up the key wickets of Taylor and Seifert to bring India back into the game.
Jasprit Bumrah who is arguably the best death bowler in the game then came back and bowled an excellent spell that won the match for India. Bumrah finished with 3 wickets and conceded just 12 runs in his 4 overs. Bumrah won the man of the match award for his excellent spell of bowling.
KL Rahul was selected as the player of the series as he has been in great form. His performance during the New Zealand series has effectively sealed his place along with Sharma as the two established openers for the T20 World Cup and Shikhar Dhawan will now be the backup opener.
India Will Be Happy With T20 Performance
One of the key goals for Team India in 2020 was to improve their T20 performance in a bid to prepare for the T20 World Cup which takes place in October. India have not had the best T20 results in the last 24 months as they have chopped and changed their side throughout.
It was the goal of Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri to use this T20 series to shortlist which players are going to be on the flight to Australia. The 5-0 series whitewash will be very pleasing to both Kohli and Shastri and they will now be in a better position to know which players they can shortlist for the World Cup.