India skipper Virat Kohli, on Tuesday (November 7), credited the bowlers for their performance in helping India clinch yet another series decider against New Zealand. In a rain-shortened 8-over-a-side contest, India defeated New Zealand by 6 runs to win the three-match T20I series 2-1.
Defending a target of 68 had left India in a tricky position. With 10 wickets in hand, to score at less than nine an over for 8 overs wasn’t the toughest challenge they could have given. To top it, the ball wasn’t gripping as well in the second innings, making it difficult for the bowlers to execute their plans. However, it all worked out well in the end for the hosts due to some disciplined bowling.
“In the second innings, they didn’t give too many boundary balls,” Kohli said in the post-match press conference. “We wanted our best bowlers to get done early and leave so many runs in the end they would be left with a lot. They executed the plans well.”
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar done with his quota of two overs upfront and Jasprit Bumrah bowling the penultimate over, India were left with only, among specialist bowlers, Kuldeep Yadav to bowl the final over. However, Kohli handed the ball to Hardik Pandya.
“We had the confidence in Hardik, whose off-cutters are good,” he said. “The wicket was damp tonight, so the ball was sticking to the wicket. I tried going up to him (in the final over), but after three balls he said, ‘I’ll do it, you don’t have to worry.’ As a captain, when you get that kind of confidence from your bowlers, you aren’t left with much to say. He has confidence in his abilities and he finished off the game well.”
The Indian skipper further added that the bowling department has played a huge role in India’s success in recent times and believes that they haven’t got the required credit for the same. “They deserve a lot more credit than they usually get otherwise,” he added. “The game has moved forward as a batsman’s game, the shorter formats. When bowlers step up in the deciding games, it makes a difference. If you see, both teams got close to their totals, but it was the better bowling side which won the game.
“The game has boiled down to basically be that. If the wicket is not offering much to the bowlers, the team that bowls better usually wins it. Our bowlers have shown better nerves in tough situations, better than the oppositions for a while now. That is something that makes me very proud, and they are also very pleased with their efforts and execution of plans. We are quite confident where stand as a team, and as a bowling unit they definitely deserve a lot more credit for winning these past few series that they have, than they get usually.”
The conditions were alien for both the sides going into the clash in Thiruvananthapuram’s Green Fields Stadium, which was hosting its maiden international match. Five hours of drizzle delayed the start of the match. However, it was some superb effort by the ground staff who made sure the crowd got something in return for their patience.
“I would like to compliment the ground staff as well for making the game happen so quickly,” Kohli said. “It was raining for a while here and the drainage system was outstanding. These things matter a lot. It’s a collective effort of everyone to provide a game to the fans. And the players, ofcourse want to play. You don’t want to come here for four hours and then go back to your rooms.”
His counterpart, Kane Williamson, too was effusive in praise of the work of the groundsmen. “A lot of credit goes to the ground staff, he said. “I guess you couldn’t expect a perfect pitch with so such weather around there was going to be some moisture and there was some in the surface.
However, even the best of human efforts couldn’t help the game from getting off to a two and a half hour delayed start. And in the process, 12 overs from each side were lost. “It made it a challenge but it was still a good game of cricket, although there was only eight overs each. But to get any cricket at all was a really good effort” he added.
Kohli also lauded the character of the team for being able to maintain themselves mentally despite the alterations in plans. “It rained for so long, so to keep the mindset going for all the while isn’t easy. You’ve to switch off a lot and then suddenly switch on. To do so in a decider game and to execute that so well (is great),” he said.