India can close out their T20I series against New Zealand by securing a third victory on the bounce in the third T20I in Hamilton on Wednesday.
Virat Kohli’s men backed up their efforts from the opener, where they chased down a score of 204 to triumph, with another strong performance in the second match of the series.
India’s bowlers were on point in the contest and restricted the Black Caps to a score of only 132/5 from their 20 overs. Lokesh Rahul’s composed innings at the top of the order, notching an unbeaten fifty, allowed the tourists to canter over the line with 15 deliveries to spare.
New Zealand need to respond in Hamilton to keep the series alive, although India are operating at an extremely high level at the moment.
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New Zealand’s cause has not been helped by injuries to three of their top seamers. Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson have all been side-lined, pressing Hamish Bennett and Blair Tickner into action.
Both Boult and Ferguson have Indian Premier League experience and are truly world-class operators in the shortest format. Their absence has been exposed by the India batsmen in the middle, and although Tim Southee has held his own – there has not been a great deal of support from the other seamers. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi were solid in Auckland and will have to play a more integral role. Santner kept the runs off the board in the second game, conceding only 19 from his four overs. Adding wickets could be a vital to the Black Caps’ hopes of turning the series around.
India will likely stick with the same side now that they have found a formula that works in their batting ranks. There has been debate raging who could play in the number four slot in the batting order with the World T20 looming at the end of the year. Shreyas Iyer has put forward strong credentials with two impressive performances this series, providing support for Rahul and Kohli. India will be desperate to cultivate depth for their team and end their reliance on their skipper and Rohit Sharma for quick runs. The bowling ranks look well set for the series for the challenges ahead. Jasprit Bumrah has been unhittable, tormenting the New Zealand batsmen with his line and length. Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal have been on the mark in the spin department, especially the former taking 2-18 in the last match. Look for him to be influential with his left-arm turn again.
Ravindra Jadeja to be India’s top bowler- 5/1 Betway
The weather in Hamilton is expected to be cloudy on Wednesday, although there are reports of scattered showers during the day. It should not threaten the contest and the slight rain may make the outfield a tad slicker for the ball to run to the boundary. It could allow for a higher-scoring game in the mould of the first match of the series. A wet ball and outfield may make life difficult on the spinners, although both teams have the talent to transcend the conditions.
After a sluggish performance against Australia in the opening match of their tour of Oceania, India are finding their stride, winning their last four matches on the bounce against the Baggy Greens and now New Zealand. It would be hard to look past them to triumph once again in Hamilton given the strength of their displays in the opening two matches of the series. Kohli’s men have the edge in the batting department due to the injuries sustained by the home side in their bowling ranks. The Black Caps have been unable to generate pressure on the tourists due to the inexperience of Tickner and Bennett, allowing the Indian batting line-up to cut loose.
If they improve the standard of their form, New Zealand could work their way back into the series. However, it will still have to be a flawless effort from Kane Williamson and company with the bat. They’ve struggled to score consistently against Bumrah with the India spinners and that could well be the difference in the contest. Bumrah is the great equaliser for India, being arguably the best bowler in the world in the T20 format. Another impressive outing from him and his team-mates should be enough take India over the line to secure the series.
India to win 3rd T20I – 4/7 Dafabet
Lokesh Rahul has scored back-to-back fifties in the opening two matches of the series. He top-scored for India in their win at Auckland. Back him to lead the way for the tourists again at 14/5 with Dafabet.
Lokesh Rahul to be India’s top batsman – 14/5 with Dafabet
|All Rounders||Mitchell Santner|