INDIA TOUR OF NZ,
Williamson should be back for his “home” game. © AFP
There was a burst of excitement among space enthusiasts and fantasy seekers in New Zealand for a brief period on Saturday night (February 1). They’d spotted, from different vantage points around the country, a string of some – 243 shimmering lights suddenly illuminate in the sky and move in an easterly direction. As is the case with most of these sightings, the status and source of the “strange lights” remained “unexplained” in the immediate aftermath of its appearance. Then almost inevitably the mystery was brought to an anticlimactic end when it was revealed that the “phenomena” was in fact just a bunch of communication satellites that’d been launched recently.
A burst of excitement followed by an anti-climactic conclusion sums up the last two matches of this T 29 I series, from a New Zealand perspective anyway. In back-to-back games, the home team have reached stages of not ideally being able to lose the game, but still lost. To make matters worse, they’ve then had to be part of a Super Over, where they’ve always looked like losing. If anything, there have been no bright lights on view with regards to the Black Caps in the last month and a half. And they now find themselves within one loss of being completely blanked out.
The series winds its way up , quite literally, to picturesque Mt Maunganui now for the finale. This popular holiday station is now home to a number of stars in this Black Caps unit, including Kane Williamson and Trent Boult. But the only stars that have shone so far on this tour have done so on the Indian side, who have unearthed a number of them, literally match after match.
Last game it was the pace duo of Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur who between them gave away only 90 Runs in the last two overs to deny New Zealand a victory in normal time. Not to forget Manish Pandey establishing himself as the crucial No.6 that India haven’t always had in this format. And we’ve already had Shreyas Iyer cement himself for now in that top-order behind the openers and Virat Kohli.
New Zealand on the other hand. have got little from their inexperienced second-string bowlers while their high-profile batsmen have flattered to deceive on most occasions. The Bay Oval is said to cut quite a picture under lights, and the Kiwis owe it to their fans that they produce some highlights that, unlike how it’s panned out on the field and in the sky these last few days around New Zealand, doesn ‘ t turn out to be a false alarm.
. (When : New Zealand v India, 5th T (I, February 2, : 10 Local, 20: 50 IST
. (Team News)
Williamson should be back for his “home” game and that might give the option of leaving Tom Bruce out and perhaps bringing Blair Tickner back to strengthen the attack. Time is ticking for the Kiwis to start figuring out their lower middle-order though with the World Cup now just 8 months away.
. Probable XI:
Jasprit Bumrah might be in line for a much-deserved rest after having led the attack for the first four games. With Rohit Sharma expected to be back, would Virat Kohli actually give himself a break? Maybe not considering he’s yet to play a standout knock this series and based on his reaction after getting out to Hamish Bennett, he might have a score to settle with the combative Kiwi pacer, if he plays. Kuldeep Yadav and Rishabh Pant may come into the equation too in case, India decide to rest KL Rahul instead.
. (Probable XI:
What they said:
I guess I got no choice. Even you know, batting 5 or 6 doesn’t really matter. The team has given me a role to bat No. 6 … I have to curb down on my shots a little bit. I can’t be very expressive as soon as I go in, even if the wicket is really flat. But I just have to play those twos, look to rotate the strike. – Manish Pandey
India, with the roll they’re on at the moment and the cricket that they’re playing, they always just find a way. And then Super Over is a bit of luck each way. It can go either way I reckon. – Colin Munro
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