With the five-match series right on the line, Virat Kohli’s Indian team travel to Seddon Park, Hamilton, to lock horns against an under-pressure New Zealand side desperate to bounce back. Scheduled on January 29, the match-up is set to witness the penultimate face-off considering the way the series has panned out so far.
An enthralling high-scoring spectacle in the opener, followed by an all-round bowling display from India has rocked the Kiwis to a huge spot of bother, where despite illustrating promising cricket with the bat and ball sporadically, they have failed to match the quality of the other camp. They have been unable to defend totals on both occasions; a figure clearly highlighting India’s supremacy with the bat.
As for the Men in Blue, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah have chipped in with repeatedly overwhelming displays in both outings, adding a sense of consistency that is notably lacking in the New Zealand setup. Both sides have been more or less equal on the bowling side apart from the cutting edge infused by Bumrah’s stupendous exploits at the death, and therefore, the decider could go down as a win for the side that is more superior with the willow.
New Zealand, much under the scanner for their incomplete displays in both games, are desperate to turn things around in order to salvage something in the series. Although personnel is not expected to be tinkered as far as the batting is concerned, Williamson and Co. could shake up their order a little bit, with someone such as Tim Seifert promoted ahead of the under-fire Colin de Grandhomme. The onus will certainly be on in-form Colin Munro, while the likes of Ross Taylor would be handed the task of applying the finishing touches.
Down the other end, the Kiwis are almost certain to infuse the medium pace of 28-year-old Daryl Mitchell, who is most likely to make way for Blair Tickner, who has been shipping plenty of runs this series. Don’t be surprised if the pace battery is replaced with the inclusion of Scott Kuggeleijn.
Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Hamish Bennett/Blair Tickner, Scott Kuggeleijn.
Bench: Daryl Mitchell, Blair Tickner/Hamish Bennett
India, with two wins in as many matches in the series, are not expected to adjust their winning combination, meaning Rishabh Pant may have to warm the bench with KL Rahul in astounding form. Rohit Sharma and Kohli are set to lead the batting order as well as constitute the think tanks on the field, while the effervescent Shreyas Iyer should continue in the number 4 position that, not so long ago, was proving to be a massive tactical conundrum for India.
Mohammad Shami must change his length by a few yards, as he is bowling far too many half volleys. All in all, the visitors are most probably going to stick to the same XI, with changes coming in the fourth T20I should they seal the series at Seddon Park.
Probable XI – Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.
Bench: Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav.
Focus will be on
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And who better than the collected figure of Kane Williamson to claw the Kiwis right back into the mix? After a jaw-dropping half-century that blew the Indian fast bowling away in a matter of a couple of overs, Williamson sustained a drastic drop in the second fixture. (14 off 20 balls) His anchoring prowess, ability to churn out boundaries in his own conventional way, overall captaincy and game-management will hold key to the result in the much-awaited third game.
Ravindra Jadeja (India)
KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have hogged the headlines for their eye-grabbing displays in both matches, but one man who has quietly gone about his task is none other than Ravindra Jadeja. Spinning a web and protracting full advantage of the conditions at Eden Park, the southpaw claimed the prized wickets of Kane Williamson and the dangerous de Grandhomme, finishing with an impressive return of 4-0-18-2. His effort on the field has, as always, been highly beneficial to the team’s attacking order of play on the field.
Matches– 14 | New Zealand Won – 8 | India Won – 5 | NR – 1
2 – KL Rahul, with back-to-back half-centuries so far this series, became the first player to successive fifties in in first two matches as a wicket-keeper in the history of T20I cricket.
40 – Owing to a peerless day on the field in the second outing of the series, Virat Kohli took his 40th catch for India in T20Is. He is just two catches behind Suresh Raina, who holds the record for most grabs in the shortest format for the Men in Blue.
TV – Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, DD Sports
Live Streaming – Hotstar
Match Timings – 12:30 PM IST; 8:00 PM local; 7:00 AM GMT
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