Yes, it happened again! Yes, New Zealand choked again! And of course, they lost the Super Over, AGAIN!
Seven wickets in hand and 11 needed in the final two overs, you would expect the batting team to finish the job with utmost ease, but not New Zealand. Just like the third T20I, the fourth encounter too ended in a tie. Just like the third T20I, New Zealand went onto the lose the Super Over.
Needing seven off the final over, Shardul Thakur dismissed Ross Taylor off the first delivery before Daryl Mitchell smashed the second ball for four. Tim Seifert was run out the next delivery and then Thakur had Mitchell caught off the penultimate ball. With two needed off one, all Mitchell Santner could manage was one run and New Zealand were once again forced to take the Super Over-route, a route that has seen them experience heartbreaks regularly.
The onus of bowling the Super Over was once again given to Jasprit Bumrah who did a better job compared to Hamilton but didn't find any support from the fielders. Shreyas Iyer dropped a chance the first delivery and that allowed Seifert and Munro to take two runs. The next ball was hit for a boundary towards cover before KL Rahul dropped another chance the third ball, giving New Zealand an extra two runs. Seifert was dismissed on the fourth ball but Munro managed five runs off the last two balls to set India a 14-run target.
Tim Southee once again took the ball and started with a half-volley that was smoked over deep mid-wicket for a maximum by Rahul. The right-arm seamer then dropped one short and Rahul pulled it over the short fine leg fielder for four runs. With four needed off four, Rahul went for another pull but ended up hitting it straight to the deep square leg fielder. Indian captain Virat Kohli then intelligently pushed one to the right of Southee and collected two runs before bringing the curtains down with a boundary, and with a ball to spare. This was New Zealand's eighth Super Over overall in white-ball cricket and they have now lost seven of them.
Earlier, New Zealand legspinner Ish Sodhi claimed three wickets before Manish Pandey scored an unbeaten 50 off 36 balls to lead India to a competitive total of 165/9 in their 20 overs. In response, Munro (47-ball 64) and Seifert (39-ball 57) scored fifties but once again failed to get the job done, giving India another opportunity to make a comeback and end up on the right side of the result.
With the series already in the bag, India rested Rohit Sharma and brought in Sanju Samson (8) in the playing XI. The right-hander from Kerala had a solid opportunity to make an impression but the 25-year-old once again failed to pounce on it. He announced his arrival with an eye-pleasing flick that went all the way for a maximum but Scott Kuggeleijn then pulled his length slightly back and when Samson tried to play a similar shot, he ended up top-edging it straight into the air and the fielder at covers made no mistake.
In-form Rahul however was more intelligent with his approach and got a free hit early in his innings to open his shoulders. The right-hander tonked that free hit for a six over extra cover and then slammed Mitchell Santner for a six and four in the third over. Rahul has been very aggressive against Santner in this series and hasn't allowed him to operate in the powerplay.
Coming in at No. 3, Kohli (11) welcomed Hamish Bennett with back-to-back boundaries but the right-arm paceman got his revenge the very next delivery. Kohli tried to work him through the on side but got a thick leading edge and Santner took a stunner at covers to send the Indian captain back to the hut. Shreyas Iyer (1) too couldn't survive for long and was caught behind off Sodhi.
The onus was once again on the shoulders of Rahul to take India forward and the Karnataka batsman was looking in fine touch. Rahul was moving along nicely and was batting on 39 when he got a half-tracker from Sodhi but ended up smashing it straight into the hands of Santner at deep mid-wicket.
India sent in Shivam Dube ahead of Pandey to counter Sodhi and Santner but the all-rounder could hardly create any impact as he was caught at deep mid-wicket playing a needless shot. The surface was offering decent turn and Santner managed to turn one back into Washington Sundar and knocked him over for a duck.
Having been reduced to 88 for 6, India finally reaped the benefits of playing Thakur. With Pandey playing keeping one end intact, he finally found a decent ally in Thakur who played couple of good shots in his 15-ball 20 and added 43 runs for the seventh wicket.
Pandey, who hasn't been dismissed in his last six T20I innings, played with a lot of maturity and ensured India had enough runs on the board to put up a fight. The Karnataka batsman, who hasn't got much of a chance to bat in this series, scored three fours during his stay in the middle. Thakur and Navdeep Saini (11*) played their part but it was largely because of Pandey India finished with a competitive total on the board.
In response, openers Martin Guptill and Munro (4) found it tough to get going in the first few overs as Bumrah and Co. bowled with great control in the first five overs. The pressure started to build on New Zealand and that forced Guptill to go after Bumrah who didn't have a great outing in the last T20I. The right-handed opener tried to work Bumrah behind square but ended up getting a thick edge, landing straight into the gloves of Rahul.
Munro has scored runs in this series but hasn't been at his free-flowing best. He struggled to get the ball away in the first five overs before finally opening up against Thakur in the final over of the powerplay. The left-hander blasted him for a six and two fours to bring some momentum into his and New Zealand's innings.
With Kane Williamson ruled out of the fourth T20I because of a shoulder injury, Tim Seifert was promoted to No. 3. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who scored a magnificent 84 when the two met at this venue last year, commenced his innings by smacking Washington for a boundary through the covers and then tonked Yuzvendra Chahal over deep mid-wicket for a maximum to get things rolling. The two added 74 runs and in the process Munro also completed his half-century.
Just when it looked like the Black Caps were taking control of the game, Kohli's brilliance on the field led to Munro's downfall. It looked like an easy two after Munro hit Dube through sweeper covers and Thakur sent in a lazy throw towards the bowler, but that's when Kohli came into the picture. The Indian captain collected the throw and fired it towards Munro's end. The opener was literally jogging back and was caught short of the crease as Kohli managed to hit bullseye.
Playing his first game of the series, Tom Bruce was bowled around his legs by Chahal and couldn't even open his account. With 53 needed off 36, the home team managed 17 runs off Chahal's final over. Chahal finished with figures of 1 for 38 but the legspinner actually bowled well. In his final over, both Saini and Bumrah dropped a catch each and that made things even more easier for New Zealand.
Ross Taylor (18-ball 24) played his part but it was mostly Seifert who kept the pressure on India. New Zealand needed 11 off the last two overs but Saini bowled a superb penultimate over, giving away just four runs. Then the choke happened and New Zealand lost yet another match which they should have won easily.