3rd T20I: India, New Zealand teams arrive for series decider in ThiruvananthapuramWith series levelled at 1-1, India and New Zealand will aim to outplay each other in the third and final Twenty20 International match to seal the series on Tuesday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting position will be under spotlight as India aim to go for the kill against a gutsy New Zealand in the third T20 International despite weather threatening to play spoilsport. The series is levelled at 1-1 and just like the preceding Australia series, where the series decider T20 at Hyderabad was a washout, there are chances that the 'winner takes it all' encounter against the 'Black Caps' could meet same fate with forecasts of rain by the Meteorological department.
The Virat Kohli-led India team has been on a roll in recent times but has faced stiff resistance from an enterprising New Zealand, usually known to punch above its weight.
The Indian team's performance has been one of contrast in the first two games. They outplayed New Zealand in the first T20 International by 53 runs and then were crushed by 40 runs in the second game where Colin Munro took the bowling apart with a blistering hundred. Kohli admitted after the loss at Rajkot that the batsmen were not "good enough" and stressed the need for all to chip in.
Former India great VVS Laxman in no uncertain terms has said that while Dhoni can still be a part of ODIs, it's time to groom someone new in the shortest format. While 49 off 37 balls with a strike-rate of 132 may not be all that bad but the former captain's inability to rotate strike during the past one year has been a cause of concern.
The visiting New Zealand side, which came into the T20 series as the No.1 ranked side, has since been displaced by Pakistan. The Kiwis, however, can regain the top spot by beating India in the final game.
Fans turned out in huge number to welcome the Indian cricketers at the Thiruvananthapuram airport. It will be nearly three decades (29 years) since the city witnessed an international match and it has become all the more significant after calls to replace Dhoni from the shortest format gaining momentum.
The Kiwis have been competitive and lost the ODI series narrowly and proving to be difficult customers in the T20s too. While the batsmen have done well to counter the Indian bowlers, especially the spinners along with seamer Trent Boult have put their hand up when it matters the most.