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
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.