Dubai: Full marks to New Zealand for coming into the match full of intent to execute the game plan to perfection and bring a rusty Indian team into submission in the Super-12 clash at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
The Blacks Caps outwitted the Indians, who lacked confidence going into a big game and showed a lot of desperation to try to get the two points on offer.
The desperation stemmed from two reasons, firstly their abysmal record against New Zealand in big events, where they have now lost three times in all three formats of the game, albeit in unfavourable conditions this time around. Secondly to boost the total and give themselves a little extra runs when the conditions change drastically due to the dew while bowling second.
Kohli’s men, in the process, were looking at the finish line and missed the next step only to fall to abysmal depths from where there was no going back.
The Indians in a bid to end the jinx against New Zealand threw everything at the Kiwis, but could do no damage as they were well insulated in their thinking and process. In the end, they were fell victim in their own game and lost the way even before the halfway stage of Indian batting.
Kohli pushed Ishan Kishan to go for the attack against Trent Boult, which in turn will also protect regular opener Rohit Sharma from getting exposed early. For a team that has three regular batsmen, Rohit’s wicket is extremely precious as his early departure will straight away push the Indians on the backfoot.
Kishan’s blistering knock in the final group match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League raised huge hopes of him being the answer to all the ills, but the left-hander’s bad run of form continued. He picked the lone fielder in the square leg fence only to give New Zealand the early breakthrough.
That opened the floodgates. When one expected Kohli to walk in, who was padded up when the national anthem was played. But Kohli played his trump card too early and sent in Rohit Sharma at No 3. It could have been lot worse had Adam Milne held on to the catch of Rohit Sharma when he was yet to score.
But even the Indian batsmen didn’t learn the lesson that it’s not easy to clear the field and look for scoring opportunities with minimal risk along the ground. No, that was not to be. They continued to find the aerial route only to give catch practice to the deep fielders, who this time didn’t make any mistakes.
Williamson once again broke the myth that Indian batters are good players of spin bowling. The New Zealand skipper threw the bait in the form of Mitchell Santner and birthday boy Ish Sodhi. Kohli and Sharma took the bait only for the two big fishes to be left out to dry. Even in 2016, Sodhi and Santner spun a web around India in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup at Nagpur. Chasing a target of 127, Santner with four wickets and Sodhi with three bundled India out for 79 in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup Super-10 clash.
The reason for New Zealand’s success is to keep it simple. Right from the first over they were focusing on bowling in the right areas, not giving any width for the batsmen to free their arms and keeping them guessing by varying their pace. Backed by brilliant fielding, the Black Caps never let that intent fade till Williamson scored that winning run of Shardul Thakur of the third ball of the 15th over.
Such was New Zealand’s hold on the match that the Indian batters could not score a single boundary for 70 balls, which is more than 11 overs from the sixth over to the 17 overs. They managed to score 51 runs losing three more wickets during the period.
On the contrary, when the Indian bowlers tried, they erred in line and length and were duly punished by Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell and then followed by Williamson. The small target also allowed them the freedom to play in that fashion.
India did not get the team selection right in the first place. The Men in Blue certainly miss a solid middle-order batter like Shreyas Iyer, who could give the team the extra cushion should the team lose early wickets. Now Rishabh Pant walks in at the fall of the third wicket, which is a bit too early for comfort for any team.
After two disappointing loses, India’s fate in the tournament is now in the hands of other teams, especially Afghanistan. The ardent Indian fans, who were dumbstruck by the abject surrender, will now be taking their calculators out to see if their team can make the next grade.
All is not lost yet though as India still have a mathematical chance, but the batters first need to regain their art of scoring runs to get their two points.