India gear up for series victory and better middle-order show

India coach Rahul Dravid (left) with New Zealand skipper Tim Southee — Black Caps Twitter
India coach Rahul Dravid (left) with New Zealand skipper Tim Southee — Black Caps Twitter

Ranchi - For coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma, there couldn’t be a better start than a series win against an old nemesis



By PTI

Published: Fri 19 Nov 2021, 12:09 AM

India will look to clinch the series albeit with a more impactful batting performance from the middle-order in the second T20 International against New Zealand in Ranchi on Friday.

For coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma, there couldn’t be a better start than a series win against an old nemesis, which will help them hit the right chord at the beginning of their partnership.

A superlative display by their top-order and controlled bowling at the back-end ensured a five-wicket victory against Black Caps, ending the Men in Blue’s seven-match losing streak across formats.

For Rohit, before he gets a much-needed two-and-half week break from the game, he would like to close the deal at Ranchi and go for the jugular when the teams meet in Kolkata for the final game of the series.

In the absence of Virat Kohli, currently on leave, Suryakumar Yadav made full use of the opportunity at number three with a match-winning 62 off 42 balls.

While there is absolutely no necessity to press the panic button, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant’s scratchy batting did slightly mess up the chase, although it was never out of control.

Shreyas, who is playing a match for India after a long break, did look rusty as he found it difficult to middle the ball. He also didnt look too keen on farming the strike with singles and twos when big shots weren’t coming off.

Shreyas scored five off eight balls before being dismissed in the penultimate over by Tim Southee, but thanks to India’s healthy run-rate, the chase did not go out of their hands.

However, the silver-lining certainly was Suryakumar, whose precision hits delighted the capacity crowd at Sawai Man Singh Stadium.

The other big positive was the performance of senior bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin, who were brilliant in terms hitting the right areas while some of the inexperienced bowlers leaked runs at the other end.

With his concern about his form, the new management under Rohit and Rahul gave veteran seamer Bhuvneshwar a a lifeline after he was dropped due to indifferent form in their loss against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup.

By his standards, Bhuvneshwar was going through the toughest phase in his career and had returned with just three wickets in six games at an average of 54 and economy rate of 7.04 for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

But the 31-year-old delivered in style and exploited the swing on offer at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium before cleaning up Daryl Mitchell with a a perfect inswinger to return with 2-24, which was second to Ashwin’s 2-23.

India were also brilliant at the death and conceded just 41 runs, taking three wickets, which denied the visitors a good 15-20 runs.

Having already committed to giving his players a long rope, it is unlikely that Rohit will disturb the batting line-up just after one game.

Although in the bowling, there could be a forced change as Indian pacer Mohammad Siraj has suffered a split left webbing after being hit by Mitchell Santner in the final over of the New Zealand innings. — PTI


More news from Sports