Pacer Shardul Thakur’s four-wicket haul in the last over cruised India to beat New Zealand via Super Over in the fourth T20 International after a second successive tie in Wellington on Friday (January 31).
Chasing 166, New Zealand were coasting at one stage before the hosts lost four wickets to be restricted to 165 for 7, contributing to yet another failed attempt at winning the match in Super Over.
Needing just 11 runs off the last two overs with seven wickets in hand, New Zealand dug a hole for themselves yet again, taking the game to a Super Over two nights after doing the same in Hamilton.
New Zealand managed 13 runs in six balls and India got there effortlessly.
KL Rahul smashed 10 runs off the first two balls before he was caught. Then, a fired-up Virat Kohli and Sanju Samson finished the game in style.
Earlier, Manish Pandey proved his value to the team with an unbeaten 50 off 35 balls, taking India to 165 for eight from 88 for six in the 12th over.
India’s total wasn’t enough considering the batting-friendly conditions but the hosts made life a lot tougher for themselves from a commanding position before succumbing to pressure.
The entertaining knocks from Colin Munro (64 off 47) and Time Seifert went in vain (57 off 39).
Mohammed Shami, who was rested on Friday, had bowled a brilliant 20th over on Wednesday and man of the match Shardul Thakur was up to the task this time, conceding just six runs when the opposition needed seven for victory.
With the series already in the bag, India gave opportunity to Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar and Navdeep Saini for the first time in the five-match series, resting Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Shami. However, none of them was able to make an impact in the game.
Chasing 165, New Zealand lost Martin Guptill early. But Munro and Seifert put on 74 runs for the second wicket to put themselves on track.
Munro scored a half-century of 38 deliveries, inclusive of six fours and three sixes. He was out against the run of play as Kohli’s direct hit surprisingly found the target after a relay throw from the deep.
It was the turning point as New Zealand lost regular wickets. Yuzvendra Chahal bowled Tom Bruce (0), but Seifert found a partner in Ross Taylor as they pushed the score past 150 in the 18th over.
Seifert scored a half-century off 32 balls, including four fours and three sixes. But the great choke was yet to come again. Needing 18 off 18, the Black Caps lost four wickets in the last over bowled by Thakur.
Taylor holed out of the first ball, while Seifert was run out two balls later. Daryl Mitchell (4) was caught next and Mitchell Santner (2) couldn’t steal two runs off the last ball as the sides engaged in a tie-breaker for the second game running.
This was after New Zealand won a fourth consecutive toss and opted to field. Kane Williamson didn’t take part in the match owing to a shoulder niggle.
Tim Southee was the stand-in skipper, with the Black Caps making two changes.
Put in to bat, the visitors were struggling at 88-6 at one stage before Pandey’s lonesome rescue act took them to a respectable total. KL Rahul contributed 39 runs off 26 balls, inclusive of three sixes and two fours.
Leg spinner Ish Sodhi got into the act and ran through India’s batting order. First to go was Shreyas Iyer (1) and then Shivam Dube (12) was caught at mid-wicket.
Sodhi finished with 3-26 while Santner dismissed Sundar for nought as the New Zealand spinners rounded up a good outing with 4-54 in eight overs.
India had earlier defeated the Black Caps in the Super Over in the third T20 in Hamilton to seal their first T20I series on New Zealand soil. The visitors now lead the five-match series 4-0.
The fifth and final T20 will be played on Sunday (February 2) at Mount Maunganui.
Sorry run for Kiwis in Super Over
New Zealand’s morale-crushing loss to India was their seventh in eight Super Over finishes and in most of those defeats, they had only themselves to blame.
New Zealand have lost six Super Over T20I matches out of seven while the sole defeat in ODIs came in the 2019 World Cup final against hosts England when they did not deserve to lose but were denied a maiden crown by a boundary count rule.
While the cricketing fraternity empathised with New Zealand following a heart-breaking result in the World Cup final, the last two T20Is against India have exposed their mental fragility in high-pressure situations.
New Zealand have let the pressure get the better of them as their last Super Over win came way back in 2008, against Australia in Christchurch.
New Zealand’s record in Super Over finishes from 2008 to 2020:
T20I v WI Auckland 2008 (Lost)
T20I v Aus Christchurch 2010 (Won)
T20I v SL Pallekele 2012 (Lost)
T20I v WI Pallekele 2012 (Lost)
ODI v Eng Lord’s 2019 (Lost)
T20I v Eng Auckland 2019 (Lost)
T20I v Ind Hamilton 2020 (Lost)
T20I v Ind Wellington 2020 (Lost).
(With inputs from agencies)