India vs New Zealand: 3rd T20I – Who Said What

India vs New Zealand: 3rd T20I – Who Said What

India clinched the series 3-0 with a comprehensive 73-run win at Eden Gardens.

Indian cricket team
Indian cricket team. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

India sauntered to a 3-0 clean sweep over New Zealand, beating the visitors comprehensively by 73 runs at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in the final game of the series to mark the best possible start of the Rohit-Dravid era.

On a day when nothing went against India, they amassed 184/7 batting first after Rohit Sharma made a hat-trick of toss wins. He chose to “challenge” the team, shifting from the template of chasing, which India successfully did twice in the series in Jaipur and Ranchi.

Rohit’s love affair with the Eden Gardens continued, as he alongside rested KL Rahul’s replacement Ishan Kishan made hay at the top, adding 69 from just 38 to provide his team with a flying start. India lost their way slightly in the middle, especially after Mitchell Santer’s twin strikes immediately after the powerplay, when Kishan fell for 29 and Suryakumar Yadav bagged a four-ball duck.

India were in danger of offsetting the advantage of the rollicking start when Rohit fell after a well-made 56 off 31 courtesy a magnificent one-handed reflex catch of Ish Sodhi after Rishabh Pant had fallen cheaply, but the Iyers – Shreyas and Venkatesh – rebuilt with a 36-run stand for the sixth wicket to lay a platform for a late dash, which was fashioned by brisk cameos of hit-wicket man Harshal Patel (18 off 11) and Deepak Chahar (unbeaten 21 off 8).

New Zealand, who did not have a memorable day with the ball, keeping aside Mitchell Santner’s three-fer, endured a similar fate with the bat, as they were plagued by the regular fall of wickets, with only two partnerships going into double-digits during their attempt of chasing 185. Martin Guptill was fluent in his stroke-filled 36-ball 51, but a target of that magnitude could have never been hunted down on the back of individual brilliance.

Axar Patel, at his frugal best, accounted for three wickets, not letting Mark Chapman and Glenn Phillips even open their accounts, while the other Patel – Harshal – returned 2/26. Venkatesh Iyer, who did not bowl before in the series, gave a motivating hint of becoming the answer to India’s sixth bowler question, claiming 1/12 in a three-over spell, while Yuzvendra Chahal (1/26), on comeback, looked at ease too as India undid New Zealand for 111 in 17.2 overs to sign off with a convincing win.

Losing skipper Mitchell Santner:

Tough one to predict what the dew is going to be like. They bowled very well at the top, especially Axar. Credit to India for the way they played throughout the series. We were probably off. Came up against a very good Indian side. There were periods in every game. Pressure Rahul and Rohit put on us was tough to come back from. He’s obviously a great player for us (Kane). With the schedule being quite tight, it gives other guys an opportunity. With the WC being in 11 months time you always look ahead. The way Guptill batted at the top, different guys chipping in at different times (positives). Challenging as a spinner with dew around. Second game was very wet. The way Ashwin and Axar adapted.

Winning skipper, Player of the Series Rohit Sharma:

It’s important to start well. That’s always been my mindset. Once you’ve seen the pitch you know what you’ve got to do. It was nicely coming onto the bat with the dew coming early. We had something planned as a batting group. Wouldn’t say it worked out well. Room for improvement in the middle order. The batting front – KL missed out today but his form is critical. Middle order didn’t get much opportunity except today. The spinners did the job for us in the entire series. The way Ashwin bowled, Axar. And how Chahal came back. Good to see Venkatesh Iyer bowling those overs with the skills he has. Important for us going forward. I would prefer that going forward .. teams around the world bat deep till No.8, No.9. Harshal, when he plays for Haryana, he opens the batting for them. And then Deepak, we’ve seen what he did in SL. Chahal was looking forward to bat as well. I’ve grown up playing on a concrete pitch back in the day. Once I started opening a lot of things changed. Won’t say it (playing the pull) comes naturally. I’ve practised a lot playing those shots. Some days it comes off very well but I’ve got out also playing that shot. That’s why I say when you’ve got a certain strength, you’ve got to back it.

Player of the Match Axar Patel:

Earlier when I got hit, I used to bowl quicker and quicker. Now I try to vary my pace. I try to stay a step ahead of the batter about what he’s trying to do. There was help in this wicket. Ball was stopping. So I just tried hitting good areas because the wicket had some help. Want to take this confidence forward. Obviously if you take 27 wickets in a series, you feel like you can do anything (Tests against Eng).

India Head Coach Rahul Dravid:

It was a really good series win. Everyone played really well right through the series. It feels good, nice to start well. We are also quite realistic. We have to keep our feet on the ground and be a bit realistic about this win. Not easy for NZ to play a World Cup final and then to turn up three days later to play three games in six days, was never going to be easy for them. Nice from our perspective but we have to learn from this series and move forward. It’s a long journey ahead over the next 10 months and we’ll have our share of ups and downs. It’s been really good to see some of the young guys come through. We have given opportunity to some of the boys who haven’t played a lot of cricket over the last few months. We have seen some of the skills available to us and we have to keep building on those skills as we go forward.

With some of our players coming back in, it will definitely make the side stronger. But it’s really great to see that we have got options, we can mix and match, we can look at different players at different places. It’s going to be a long season from hereon till the next WC. There’s a lot of games to be played, so we have to do that with some of our players and be realistic with the amount of cricket they can play. It’s nice to see people step-up and do well at this stage. We have got just three or four boys who are going onto the Test matches. We’ll ask them to have an early night because in a couple of days, they’ll have to start getting up at 7:30 in the morning for a 9:30 start. So hopefully we can get a good night’s sleep. The other boys can probably have a late night and enjoy themselves.