Yet another Super Over, and yet another heartbreak! Captain Kane Williamson did everything, literally everything, in the third Twenty20 International but it was still not enough as India not just sealed the five-match series in Hamilton but also dented New Zealand's confidence big time.
The home team needed just two off four balls, but could only manage one. The Black Caps were once again forced to take the Super Over-route and all they got at the end of it, was disappointment. Williamson did an outstanding job in the Super Over against Jasprit Bumrah, helping New Zealand score 17 off arguably the world's best death bowler. However, Rohit Sharma then tonked Tim Southee's final two deliveries for maximums with 10 required off 2 balls to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead.
New Zealand are down and out and will need something spectacular if they want to end up on the right side of the result in the fourth T20I at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday (January 31). With the series already decided, both teams will look to test their bench strength in the remaining two games with the T20 World Cup hardly a few months away.
The home team lost the first two T20Is in Auckland by convincing margins but put up a solid fight in the third. New Zealand bowlers did a commendable job to restrict India to 179/5 after their openers got them off to a superb start. The second innings however was all about their skipper Williamson who was at his very best and displayed a masterclass against Bumrah and Co. The No. 3 batsman scored 95 off just 48 balls and took his team to a winning position. The right-hander was caught behind in the final over but still all they needed were two off the last three deliveries.
Ross Taylor and Tim Seifert managed to get one run off a bye on the penultimate delivery but the former then went for the glory shot off the final delivery and ended up dragging it back onto the stumps. Most of the New Zealand batsmen have done a decent job in this series but have failed to finish the job. Openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro in particular have got starts in all three games but not once they have managed to convert it into something substantial.
"Very disappointing after coming off from an effort like that. It was nice to spend some time in the middle and build some partnerships because starting on this deck wasn't easy. It was disappointing not to cross the finishing line. It is a game of small margins," said Williamson after the defeat.
The likes of Taylor and Seifert haven't done enough in the middle-order while Colin de Grandhomme just hasn't been able to get going. The all-rounder, who was only in the squad for the first three T20Is, will be replaced by Tom Bruce for the remaining two encounters. The New Zealand batsmen did manage to get the better of Bumrah in the third T20I but have failed to put enough pressure on the Indian spinners. Apart from Bruce, the home side can also bring in all-rounder Daryl Mitchell in the playing XI which will give them more batting depth.
In the bowling department, Southee has failed to lead New Zealand's attack in the absence of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. They don't have many options in this department and all they have in their squad is Blair Tickner who couldn't create any impact in the first two games. If he does get a game, he might come in place of Hamish Bennett who was slammed for 54 runs in his three overs.
Meanwhile, having won their first T20I series against New Zealand, India will look to make a few changes in the last two games and give a few of their players some game time. "There are a couple of guys who are sitting out like (Washington) Sundar and (Navdeep) Saini, they deserve to get a game. The idea is still to win the remaining two games," said Virat Kohli at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Like Kohli suggested, India might bring in Washington in place of Ravindra Jadeja who has done a very good job in the first three encounters. Meanwhile, Saini will most probably come in place of Shardul Thakur. But it won't be a bad idea to rest someone like Bumrah and give Thakur more games. The right-arm seamer from Mumbai actually did a decent job in Hamilton, picking up 2 for 21 off his three overs. India also have the option of playing Kuldeep Yadav in place of Yuzvendra Chahal.
The Indian team management will also have to find a way to fit in Sanju Samson. However, it will be interesting to see who India replace him with. They would like to give in-form KL Rahul more opportunities behind the stumps, while Rohit too would want as much as game time ahead of the Test series. The visiting side should also bat Manish Pandey slightly up the batting order considering the Karnataka batsman has only played 18 deliveries in this series so far. The one option they have is to drop Shivam Dube and go with just five frontline bowlers.
The series might be over but there is a bigger picture to look forward to and both India and New Zealand will try to solve as many queries as possible and get themselves ready for the T20 extravaganza in Australia.
New Zealand (Probable XI) - Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Daryl Mitchell, Ross Taylor, Tim Seifert (wk), Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ish Sodhi, Hamish Bennett.
India (Probable XI) - Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Ravindra Jadeja/Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.