IN­DIA FAL­TER AT THE FIN­ISH LINE Karthik’s ‘sin­gle’ er­ror that cost Men In Blue dear

Ki­wis Win Last T20I By 4 Runs To Clinch Se­ries And Deny Vis­i­tors Per­fect End NUM­BERS GAME

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES SPORT -

Hamil­ton: New Zealand de­nied In­dia a per­fect fin­ish to their highly suc­cess­ful over­seas sea­son by clinch­ing the T20 se­ries 2-1 with a slen­der four-run win in the se­ries-de­cid­ing third match here on Sun­day. In­dia savoured a his­toric Test and ODI bilateral se­ries win in Aus­tralia be­fore record­ing their big­gest ODI se­ries win on New Zealand soil.

A first ever T20 se­ries win would have been an ic­ing on the cake but the hosts held their nerves to pull off a thrilling vic­tory. With Sun­day’s re­sult, In­dia have lost their first T20 se­ries af­ter win­ning nine and draw­ing one. In­dia needed to knock off a stiff 213-run tar­get to bring cur­tains on a mem­o­rable three-month tour in a be­fit­ting man­ner but fell just short.

Ex­ploit­ing bat­ting friendly con­di­tions at the small Sed­don Park ground, New Zealand cut the In­dian at­tack to shreds to post an im­pos­ing 212 for four. Opener Colin Munro pro­duced a 40-ball 72 and shared a 80-run stand with fel­low opener Tim Seifert (43) to lay foun­da­tion for a big score.

Krunal Pandya was the most ex­pen­sive of the In­dian bowlers, bleed­ing 54 runs in his four-over quota. If it was not for left-arm Chi­na­man Kuldeep Ya­dav (2/26)’s tight bowl­ing in the mid­dle-overs and Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar (1/37), In­dia would have got a big­ger tar­get to chase.

In­dia cap­tain Ro­hit Sharma, who usu­ally bats ex­plo­sive in such sit­u­a­tions, made an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal 32-ball 38 and it also hurt In­dia’s chances. Vi­jay Shankar (43 off 28) played a use­ful knock though at the top af­ter Shikhar Dhawan (5) fell early. Rishabh Pant (28 off 12) and Hardik Pandya (21 off 11) in­fused some life into In­dia’s chase with some bru­tal hit­ting but per­ished while try­ing to keep up with a steep scor­ing rate. Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni (2 off 4) also could not do much.

In­dia needed 16 runs off the fi­nal over and Di­nesh Karthik (33 not out off 16) af­ter tak­ing a dou­ble off the first ball, stunned the crowd and his team­mates by re­fus­ing to take a sin­gle in the third ball. Krunal (26 not out off 30) had reached the striker’s end but Karthik did not run, send­ing his part­ner back. This was af­ter um­pire did not give a clear wide bowled by Tim Southee.

Karthik could only man­age a sin­gle off the next ball as Southee bowled a straight ball. By then, the match had clearly slipped out of In­dia’s hands. Both Karthik and Krunal did ex­ceed­ingly well to take the game into the fi­nal over but their un­beaten 63-run stand off 28 balls did not prove to be enough.

New Zealand bowlers fared much better than In­dia, con­sis­tently hit­ting the short-of-length, which proved to be key on this small ground. Pant though changed the pace of In­dian in­nings with his scin­til­lat­ing bat­ting.

New Zealand: Ex­tras (LB-4, W-3) 7; To­tal (for 4 wkts; 20 ovs) 212; FoW: Bowl­ing: In­dia: W-11) 12; To­tal (for 6 wkts, 20 ovs) 208; FoW: Bowl­ing: Date

de­liv­ery bowled by Leigh Kasperek as In­dia lost the match by two runs.

In­dia needed 16 runs from the fi­nal over and Raj and Deepti Sharma (21 not out) raised hopes of a re­mark­able win by hit­ting bound­aries in the first and third de­liv­er­ies but were left to hit a four off the last ball. Cap­tain Har­man­preet Kaur, whose in­dif­fer­ent form has hurt the team, said she was dis­ap­pointed. In­dia had won the three-match ODI se­ries 2-1 be­fore this T20 con­test.

“We are dis­ap­pointed to lose the se­ries like this, we could have done better. We have a lot of work to do,” she said af­ter scor­ing just two on Sun­day.

New Zealand 161/7 in 20 overs (So­phie Devine 72, Amy Sat­terth­waite 31; Deepti Sharma 2-28). In­dia 159/4 in 20 overs (Sm­riti Mand­hana 86; S Devine 2-21). OPEN­ING ACT: Ro­hit Sharma @times­group.com Chen­nai: Di­nesh Karthik be­came a hero about a year back when he smashed Bangladesh’s Soumya Sarkar in the last over to win In­dia the Ni­da­has T20 Tris­eries also fea­tur­ing hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo. By Karthik’s own ad­mis­sion af­ter that, the team man­age­ment was look­ing at him as a fin­isher and the Tamil Nadu player was do­ing the job for the team in quite a few close games.

But on Sun­day, in the T20 ‘fi­nal’ against New Zealand, af­ter do­ing the job for a bit along with all-rounder Krunal Pandya, Karthik lost his com­po­sure and re­fused a sin­gle off the third ball of the last over by Tim Southee, when In­dia needed 14. Krunal, at the other end, was go­ing great guns and it was in­ex­pli­ca­ble as to why Karthik re­fused that sin­gle. Af­ter all, it was Krunal who had taken Southee apart in his ear­lier over that brought In­dia back into the game.

Re­fus­ing sin­gles to­wards the end to fin­ish games on his own was made into a trend by MS Dhoni in his prime — the most no­table be­ing against Sri Lanka in a Tri-se­ries fi­nal in West Indies in 2013 when he sealed it with a six in the last over. But in that game Dhoni was bat­ting with No. 10 and 11 for a con­sid­er­able pe­riod and the best chance for In­dia to win was with the then cap­tain on strike.

“Dhoni would never refuse sin­gles if he was bat­ting with some­body who could hit the ball hard. A fin­isher’s job is not to hit the win­ning shot, it’s about guid­ing the ship with his part­ners and Karthik’s de­ci­sion on Sun­day de­fied all logic. I would still have un­der­stood if Bhu­vnehswar Ku­mar was at the other end, but with Krunal there, I don’t know what was go­ing through Karthik’s mind,” former In­dia off­spin­ner Harb­ha­jan Singh told TOI.

It must be said here though that Dhoni did refuse a sin­gle in the lone T20 In­ter­na­tional against Eng­land at Edg­bas­ton in 2014 with Am­bati Rayudu bat­ting at the other end and the equa­tion be­ing nine off four balls. What can be said in Dhoni’s de­fence on that oc­ca­sion though is that Rayudu had just walked into bat.

It’s true that a player has to deal with a lot of pres­sure when he has dragged the game to the last over. Karthik, for a con­sid­er­able pe­riod of time play­ing for In­dia and Kolkata Knight Rid­ers, has shown a cool head un­der the cosh which has made the team man­age­ment con­sider him as an op­tion for the fin­isher’s role go­ing into the World Cup. But Bha­jji feels even if Karthik has to bat deep in most games, he shouldn’t take the fin­isher’s tag too se­ri­ously. “I am sure the team man­age­ment will ask him to­day as to why he re­fused that sin­gle. NOT ENOUGH: These are split sec­ond de­ci­sions that can make or break a match and a player of Karthik’s ex­pe­ri­ence is aware of that,” Harb­ha­jan said.

Bha­jji, in fact, re­ferred to a match in the Asia Cup in 2010 when he hit Shoaib Akhtar for a six in the last over to take In­dia to the fi­nal.

“I was bat­ting with Praveen Ku­mar at that time and he was also con­nect­ing well. I would def­i­nitely have taken a sin­gle if there was an op­por­tu­nity...And it’s not that I started think­ing af­ter that game that I had be­come a fin­isher just be­cause I hit Shoaib for a six,” Harb­ha­jan said, hop­ing that Karthik will not make such er­ror of judge­ments go­ing ahead.

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