The bilateral white-ball series between India and New Zealand is over and there are contrasting emotions on both the sides. While Men in Blue are happy to have defeated the Kiwis in both ODI and T20I series, a team which has historically haunted them at big ICC events, New Zealand is leaving the country with agony in their mind, as it has not yet won a bilateral series in any format in India besides a one-off T20I match in 2012.
After Men in Blue captured the ODI series 3-0, the T20I series looked to be an exciting contest, with both teams boasting of hard-hitting batters. If India had anchors like Shubman Gill guarding attackers like Ishan Kishan, Rahul Tripathi and Suryakumar Yadav, Kiwis also had an exciting batting lineup featuring Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips at the top.
India lost a competitive first T20I by 21 runs, failing to chase down 177 runs set by NZ. The next match was a low-scoring affair in which India almost made a mess out of a 100-run chase before Suryakumar Yadav (26*) guided them to a six-wicket win. The series was level at 1-1.
The third T20I showcased the high-scoring and low-scoring sides of the series. India was helped by knocks from Shubman Gill (126* off 63 balls), Rahul Tripathi (44 off 22 balls), Hardik Pandya (30 off 17 balls) and Suryakumar Yadav (24 of 13 balls) to reach 234/4 in 20 overs.
Gill smashed the highest score by an Indian in T20I cricket, overtaking Virat Kohli’s score of 122*. He also became the youngest batter to have centuries in all three formats of the sport at 23 years of age and fifth India batter to have tons in all formats.
The low-scoring nature of second T20I was then replicated by New Zealand, who were made to toil for every run. Only Mitchell showed some resistance with his 25-ball 35 run knock in face of an onslaught from Hardik Pandya (4/16) and Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh, Shivam Mavi, who took two wickets each.
India bundled out NZ for 66 in just 12.1 overs to capture the match by 168 runs. This is the biggest win margin by runs in a match between two Test-playing nations. It is also India’s biggest win in T20Is.
New Zealand registered their third-lowest T20I total, six runs more than their worst, which they scored against Sri Lanka in 2014. It is also the lowest T20I total by a team against India.
Following the match, India skipper Hardik Pandya also expressed happiness with the “exceptional” performances of his team. He also won the ‘Man of the Series’ award for scoring 66 runs in three games and taking five wickets.
“I do not mind winning (man of the series award), but there were so performances here that were exceptional. This Man of the Series and trophy goes out to the whole support staff, I am happy for all of them,” said Pandya in a post-match presentation.
He also talked about his captaincy style, as a part of which he looks to “keep it simple” and “back his gut”.
“(On doing things out of the box) Not to be honest, I always play the game like this. I try to read what is required, not have preconceived ideas. In my captaincy, I look to keep it simple and back my gut. I have a simple rule – if I go down, I will go down on my terms. We have spoken about taking challenges. When we played the IPL final, we felt the second innings was more spicy but on this surface today I wanted to make it a normal game because it was a decider. Hence, we batted first. Hopefully, we can continue performing like this,” said Pandya.
Gill won the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his century.
Brief score: India 234/4 (Shubman Gill 126*, Rahul Tripathi 44; Daryl Mitchell 1-6) vs New Zealand 66 (Daryl Mitchell 35, Mitchell Santner 13; Hardik Pandya 4-16).