New Zealand were the better team in the T20I series against India. They held their nerves and batted, bowled and fielded better to deny India a T20I series win by just 4 runs. India went home with just a T20I series loss from Down Under.
Nevertheless, it was an excellent series where both the teams competed hard to bag the trophy. India were without some of their first XI players, but still gave a good account of themselves. India’s reserve bench showed a lot of promise.
Cricwizz makes the best XI of the T20I series between New Zealand and India. Have a look.
Tim Seifert and Colin Munro
The two made a great opening pair and provided a fiery start in two of the three matches. The two stands – 86 in 8.2 overs and 80 in 7.4 overs – in the first and third T20I won the series for New Zealand. After the initial hammering from the Seifert-Munro duo, India were down and battered and kept leaking runs in plenty.
In both the T20Is, New Zealand posted 200-plus total on the brilliant start provided by the openers. The two matched each other with a stroke for stroke.
Seifert was a revelation and the find of the series. He emerged the highest run-getter with 139 runs at a strike rate of 173.75 with 11 fours and 10 sixes. Munro is second in the list with 118 runs at a strike rate of 163.89 with 7 fours and 8 sixes.
Rohit had a below-par series as he was uncharacteristic slow in the decider with 32-ball 38. It had put pressure on other batsmen who perished going for the kill. Nevertheless, Rohit still gets a place in this XI for his match-winning effort in the second T20I. He scored a quickfire 29-ball 50 with 3 fours and 4 sixes to pave the platform for 159-run successful chase. He redeemed himself with this knock in the series, but his slow innings in the decider will continue to haunt him for some time.
Kane Williamson (captain)
Williamson played useful cameos with the bat and carried on the good work done by the openers. Although he failed to make a big score, his quick instinctive innings carried forward the momentum provided by the dazzling opening duo of Seifert-Munro.
Besides, Williamson gets to lead this XI, as he was tactically ahead of Rohit Sharma in the series. He kept a calm head when India were looking to spoil New Zealand’s party in the third T20I.
His cool approach never placed his teammates under any sort of pressure in the third match as they pulled off a series win without much ado. For the records, Williamson made 87 runs at a strike rate of 135.
Pant was rusty to begin with in the first T20I, taking 10 balls to score 4 runs. But in the last two matches, he showed the real Rishabh Pant the world knows. In the second match, he finished off the game for India with 28-ball 40* with 4 fours and 1 six. In the third match, he came out all guns blazing for the team’s cause, racing to 12-ball 28 with one four and 3 sixes. Had he not been dismissed, India would have coasted to an easy win.
Although Dhoni did not get much opportunity to bat in the series, he was a revelation behind the stumps, effecting some sharp stumpings to turn the game around. He stumped Seifert in the third match to break a threatening opening stand. With the bat, Dhoni came good in the first match, scoring 39 in a losing cause. With his experience, he easily walks into this XI.
Colin de Grandhomme
He rescued New Zealand with the bat in the second T20I at Auckland with a 28-ball 50. He stitched 77 valuable runs with Ross Taylor. He came back to haunt India in the third T20I at Hamilton, cracking 16-ball 30 with 3 fours and 1 six to give the finishing touch to the innings. He also fielded brilliantly and saved some valuable runs in the deep in the third match. He did not get to bowl in the series.
Pandya showed he had a stomach for the fight as he combined with Dinesh Karthik to give a scare to New Zealand in the decider at Hamilton. But Karthik did not show much faith in Pandya and denied a single in the last over. It could have been India’s day if Pandya was given the strike.
But Pandya won hearts with bat and ball. He scored 13-ball 26* with 2 fours and 2 sixes in the big run-chase in the third T20I. He won India the second T20I with his man of the match performance with the ball as he took 3/28 with Colin Munro, Williamson as his prized scalps.
Santner bowled better than India spinners in the series. He took 4 wickets in the series, and became the joint highest wicket-taker. But it was his victims that got him a place in this XI. In the decider, he opened the innings with his bowling and dismissed the dangerous Shikhar Dhawan and threatening Vijay Shankar. In the first T20I at Wellington, he also had Shankar and Rishabh Pant to derail India.
Southee was the star performer with the ball in the first T20I at Wellington with 3/17. He dismissed the likes of Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, and Krunal Pandya to put India into backfoot. Although he failed to get another wicket in the series, he bowled the crucial and series-defining last over in the decider at Hamilton. He defended 16 runs off the last over, conceding 11 as New Zealand romped home by 4 runs.
Although Bhuvneshwar Kumar was lackluster in the series, he made amends in the second T20I, taking 1/27 and guiding young Khaleel Ahmed to a better show himself. Although all the pacers from either side went for runs, Bhuvi walks into this XI for his show in the second T20I and his experience of bowling in death. He took 3 wickets in the series. But a lot was expected from Bhuvi in absence of other regular medium-pacers. Bhuvi had a disappointing series, but due to lack of other better pacers, Bhuvi walks into this XI.
Best XI: Colin Munro, Tim Seifert, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson (captain), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (keeper), Colin de Grandhomme, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.