New venue set for series decider

Plot:
After what has been an enthralling limited overs tour for New Zealand & India, the tour is about to end with the deciding T20I in Thiruvananthapuram. The venue is hosting its first ever international game, and becomes the second venue in Kerala, after the Nehru Stadium in Kochi to host one. India were dominant in the first T20I, while the tables turned in the second and New Zealand clinched the game without breaking any sweat.

New Zealand exposed a few possible troubles that the Indians may have in their batting department. India have handed a couple of debuts in this series, both of which haven’t fired to their potential yet. Shreyas Iyer got his first opportunity with the bat, and seemed to struggle under pressure. Mohammed Siraj, on the other hand had to bear the brunt of Colin Munro’s belligerent hitting. However, they can’t be blamed for India’s lapses as they were just blooded into the team in this very series.

It was coming, and it was long overdue, perhaps! Both the Kiwi openers hadn’t fired up until the second T20I on this tour. They were losing early wickets and were pegged back by the Indian quicks in almost all their earlier games. The middle-order had to do all the weight-lifting with the bat. If they go in with this form, and provide a good start, they can put the dangerous Indian bowlers on the back foot. They were wise to see Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Jasprit Bumrah off, and take on the lesser experienced bowlers.

The Indian bowling has to pull their socks up for the decider. The Kiwi batsmen will be high on confidence and won’t fret before going after them. One key area that India will look to improve in is their big hitting. The middle-order couldn’t get going in the chase during the second T20I. The number of dot balls were far too many for their comfort and the pressure kept mounting. The likes of Dhoni will have to lead the way with the charge, and Shreyas Iyer along with Hardik Pandya will look to play fearlessly. Talk around Dhoni’s batting emerged once again, and the champion that he is, the finisher will look to make his bat talk to silence his critics.

Stage:
Greenfield International Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram:
With growing infrastructure around cricket, India has produced many new venues in the past few years. The latest to join the batch of grounds is Greenfield International Stadium in Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram. There is an air of mystery around the pitch, which is somewhat an unknown quantity at the moment, with this game being the first ever international for the venue. With the heat in Kerala, dew could be a factor in the second innings, and the captains will be wary about it. It is good to see a T20I being awarded to yet another city after Ranchi, Dharamsala, Raipur & the like.

Acts:
Indian openers vs Trent Boult:
More than once on this tour, Trent Boult has got the better of Shikhar Dhawan & Rohit Sharma. His swinging deliveries have troubled the openers consistently. One last time against Boult, they will have to tackle them, be it by doing it aggressively, or with caution.

Mohammed Siraj vs Colin Munro:
Life in cricket could be short, if opportunities aren’t grabbed with both hands, they may not come by again. Mohammed Siraj was pelted on debut, but he got the Kane Williamson’s wicket. However, if he gets a go in the decider, he will look to return with better figures, and hopefully, revenge against Colin Munro.

Hardik Pandya vs Ish Sodhi:
Hardik Pandya hasn’t got a good outing with the bat yet. He has been dismissed cheaply in both the T20Is, and will not want to end the series without a noteworthy contribution. Ish Sodhi accounted for Hardik in both the matches with good deliveries. Hardik has a good history against leggies in international cricket, and will look to keep that intact when he faces Sodhi next.


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