India, Kiwis target series win

India, Kiwis target series win

Thiruvananthapuram: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting position will be under the spotlight as India aim to go for the kill against a gutsy New Zealand in the third T20 International even as weather threatens to play spoilsport.

The series is level 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 the same fate with forecasts of rain by the weathermen.

The Virat Kohli-led Indian team has been on a roll in recent times but has faced stiff resistance from an enterprising New Zealand, usually known to punch above their weight. 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.

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, the former captain's inability to rotate strike has been a cause of concern.

In Dhoni's innings, he had scored 26 runs in boundaries from five deliveries (3x6, 2x4) and managed only 23 from the remaining 32 deliveries, which is far less than run a ball.

It will be interesting to see where Virat Kohli and chief coach Ravi Shastri slot Dhoni in the next game.

A school of thought suggests that Dhoni will be suited at No 4 in case India lose early wickets as it will give him time to settle down.

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.

While batting -- save Kohli's 65 off 42 balls -- was disappointing, the bowlers and the fielders also had a below-par day.

Dropped catches hurt India's chances while debutant Mohammed Siraj had a rough time. However, the good work by Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar helped keep New Zealand below 200. It remains to be seen if the team management gives Siraj another opportunity in a crucial game or opts for an extra batsman in his place. Kohli admitted after the loss at Rajkot that the batsmen were not "good enough" and stressed the need for all to chip in.

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.

Captain Kane Williamson was happy after the team turned things around after the loss in game one.

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, the spinners along with seamer Trent Boult too have put their hand up when it matters the most.

PTI

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