NZ Tour Of India: Can Hardik Pandya’s Young Brigade Carry Forward The Winning Momentum?

With the series win in sight, Hardik Pandya-led India are raring to go for glory when they take on New Zealand in the 3rd and final T20I slated to be played on Wednesday at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Honestly, the young brigade could not have asked for a better start to their New Zealand tour than this. If you ask us to describe India’s performance, all we can say is – they came, they played, and they conquered.

The new look Indian team were clinical [to say the least] in the second match. Now, a victory in the third T20I will not only help the Hardik Pandya-led side in sealing the T20I series but it will also hand them a much-coveted whitewash against New Zealand. Oh, and, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in India’s playing XI. Everyone, including us, is excited about the final showdown. Especially after Suryakumar Yadav’s smashing knock in the last game.

Suryakumar Yadav and Deepak Hooda exhibited a sensational show to earn a comfortable win over New Zealand in the second T20I on Sunday. Surya notched his second international century and Hooda registered impressive figures of 4/10 as India clinched a 65-run victory. Fans are expecting a similar show from the ‘Men In Blue’ in the upcoming encounter.

Suryakumar Yadav came down to bat at a time when India were at 36 for 1. He, as usual, started playing incredible shots from the get-go and eventually stitched 111 runs in just 51 balls. Sky isn’t certainly the limit for our very own SKY. Don’t you agree? The Mumbai-born batter, known for his 360-degree approach, smashed 11 boundaries and seven sixes in the penultimate encounter.  His power-packed knock helped India in reaching a defendable total of 191.

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New Zealand, during the run chase, suffered an early jolt after their opening batter Finn Allen was sent packing on the second delivery of the innings. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson did put up strong resistance and scored 61 off 52 balls but his contribution was not enough to avoid a defeat. However, it was Deepak Hooda who heroed in Indian bowling. Hooda grabbed four wickets and conceded just 10 runs after bowling 2.5 overs. And with this, the Haryana-born all-rounder registered the best bowling figures in a T20I match between India and New Zealand.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammad Siraj picked up two wickets each to bundle out the Kiwis for just 126. Chahal, who did not play a single match at the T20 World Cup, would now want to carry forward the good form in the third game and cement his spot in the squad.

Indian fans and followers, ahead of the final battle, would also want Suryakumar to carry forward the onslaught and guide the ‘Men in Blue’ to a comprehensive series win. And, a squad as strong as New Zealand would like to make full use of this vulnerability in the final game to avoid a humiliating whitewash. Probably that is why skipper Hardik Pandya underlined the need for other batters to perform.

“Everyone chipped in but it was surely a special innings by Surya. We would have taken a score of 170-175. Bowlers did well and it was about being aggressive in the mindset. It doesn’t mean taking a wicket every ball, but being aggressive with the ball is important. The conditions were very wet, so credit to the bowlers. I have bowled a lot, and going forward I want to see more bowling options. Not always that this will work but I want more batters to chip in with the ball,” Pandya said after the second T20I.

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Almost everyone will agree that Suryakumar Yadav is one of the most deadly batters in white ball cricket. Those scoops, ramp shots and slight shuffle right before unleashing the hit, make him a delight to watch. Surya is scoring runs at will, playing shots all over the park and justifying the reputation of being the best T20I batter at the moment. Be it the slow pitches of the subcontinent or the bouncy wickets in Australia and New Zealand, Surya sticks to what he does best. It takes immense talent and courage to stick to your own gameplay and succeed in challenging conditions on a regular basis.

“I’m enjoying batting this way, I’ve been doing the same thing in the nets, all practice sessions and going out [to the middle], all these things happening, I’m very happy with that,” this was Suryakumar Yadav’s plain and simple reaction after notching his second T20I century against the Kiwis on Sunday.

The stylist batter’s straightforward response can never describe the incredibility of his knock against New Zealand at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. A deep dive into his numbers will speak of the magnanimity of his stupendous knock. After India’s batting, Suryakumar Yadav revealed the strategy and explained why it was important to keep on batting till the very last ball of the innings.

“In T20 cricket, a hundred is always special. But it was also important for me to bat till the end, that’s what Hardik [Pandya] was telling me from the other end. Just try and play till the 18th-19th over, we need a score of 180-185, and really happy with the score on the board,” Surya said.

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However, Suryakumar Yadav’s virtuosity would have gone in vain had Deepak Hooda not produced a remarkable performance with the ball against Kane Williamson’s men on Sunday. Hooda became the first Indian bowler to register a four-wicket haul in T20I cricket against New Zealand. Overall, he’s the fourth cricketer to do so after Daniel Vettori (4/20), Mitchell Santner (4/11) and Trent Boult (4/34).

After dismissing Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee off successive deliveries in the penultimate over, Hooda came close to registering a hat-trick. Lockie Ferguson successfully dealt with the next ball to thwart Hooda from accomplishing another record.

Now, the million-dollar question – Will the ‘Men in Blue’ be able to carry forward the winning momentum in the final encounter or will the Kiwis once again rise to the occasion and emerge as India’s nemesis?

All we can say is that we will find out soon enough.

Catch the T20Is on 22nd November beginning 11 am, and ODIs on 25th, 27th and 30th November beginning 6 am, only on  Prime Video

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