File photo of New Zealand stand-in captain for T20I series against India, Tim Southee© AFP
New Zealand lost to India by 5 wickets in the first T20 international at Jaipur on Wednesday, but the Blackcaps ended up making a match out of it as their bowlers took the encounter down to the wire. Tim Southee, who is leading the team in the absence of regular captain Kane Williamson, decided to bowl out all his main bowlers by the 19th over, as a result of which he had to hand the ball to part-time medium pacer Daryl Mitchell for the ultimate over. Spinner Todd Astle had an over up his sleeve but Southee didn’t want to fancy bowling a leg spinner at a time when Left-handed batsmen Rishabh Pant and Venkatesh Iyer were at the crease.
India won the match with two balls to spare as Rishabh Pant hit a boundary to take the hosts home. Mitchell, who had 10 runs to defend in the final over, couldn’t pull off a miracle win.
While many might think this strategy of bowling out the main bowlers and handing the ball to a part-timer might not have been a clever ploy by Southee, it was lauded by former India paceman Zaheer Khan.
Zaheer, who was India’s premier fast bowler throughout the 2000s and also won the 2011 ICC World Cup, while speaking on Cricbuzz Live said that Southee’s strategy allowed New Zealand to stay in with a chance till the final over as the Indian batsmen were looking good to finish the match much earlier.
“If you see how Southee captained the team after the 12th over and realised that he had to bowl his main bowlers in order to stay in the match, I think it was big positive for them. New Zealand generally plays like this as they try to give themselves the best chance to win a match.
“He bowled his main bowlers out and then handed the ball to Daryl Mitchell. The Indian top order batted really well, but this strategy allowed New Zealand to stay in the match till end and eventually created a situation from where they could have won the match too. So, I think the New Zealand bowlers and Southee’s captaincy need to be praised,” Zaheer said.
The second match of the series will be played on Friday in Ranchi.
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