Lucknow, Jan 28 (PTI): India will have to raise their game a few notches as the Hardik Pandya-led side faces a must-win situation to level the three-match T20I series against New Zealand, here on Sunday. India were caught in a spin web on the Ranchi pitch and lost the opener by 21 runs on Friday.
The loss also highlighted India’s bowling profligacy, especially by the pace duo of Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik. If tearaway pacer Malik conceded 16 runs in one over, Arshdeep leaked 27 runs in the last over, which put pressure on the India batters while chasing. That expensive over from the young left-arm quick was the turning point as he was smashed for three sixes and a boundary. India’s batters were off to an inauspicious start with the top-three managing just 15 runs. The hosts ended up scoring 155/9, which would have been a par score to defend on the wicket, as indicated by Washington Sundar after the match.
“150 would’ve been par and we would’ve been very happy with it,” the India all-rounder said.
Skipper Pandya, however, is unlikely to bring in uncapped pace bowler Mukesh Kumar for the second T20I and will probably back Arshdeep to bounce back.
While Shubman Gill, who has been in red-hot form in the ODIs, has played just four T20Is and is still learning the nuances of the shortest format, the big concern will be the two key batters — Ishan Kishan and Deepak Hooda.
Occupying the opening spot, Kishan is nowhere near the ominous form he showed while slamming a record-breaking ODI double-century against Bangladesh last December. Since then, Ishan’s scores in the last seven innings in both ODIs and T20Is read 37, 2, 1, 5, 8 n.o., 17 and 4. If one just considers the T20Is, it’s been a while since he last scored a fifty — against South Africa on June 14, 2022.
Hooda, too, hasn’t enjoyed much success as a lower middle-order batter and averages just 17.88 in the last 13 innings, with the highest being the unbeaten 41 against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede.