Are New Zealand the new South Africa? Luck has deserted them in close finishes and Super Overs and, much like big-ticket semi-finals for South Africa, such games are becoming a portent of national heartbreak for New Zealand. They have lost tie-breakers with alarming consistency: three across formats in the last seven months, and six out of seven overall.
Although, as Kane Williamson admitted later, the match probably shouldn't have gone into the Super Over at all.
On the upside for New Zealand, they played their best game of the series, even outplayed India for most part. On the downside, they still lost. It goes to show the narrow margin for botch-ups in T20s compared to the longer formats. It also goes to show the gulf between the two sides.
India always had the better hand, even if they didn't always play their cards right in Hamilton. Eventually, their depth came to the fore as they broke out of jail not just once, but twice, through the efforts of Mohammed Shami and Rohit Sharma. With the series in the bag, experimentation is on the cards starting in Wellington. While India would want to give the likes of Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar and Kuldeep Yadav some game time, they may equally want to rest someone like Shami who has by far bowled the most number of overs by an Indian quick since the start of the home season in 2019: 192.3 overs, followed by Umesh Yadav who is more than hundred overs behind.
For New Zealand, barring the possibility of an odd change, the onus is likely to be on continuing the good work they put in in Hamilton, and trying to get across the line if they get close again.
New Zealand LLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Mitchell Santner, who played a key role in New Zealand's World Cup win over India last year, hasn't had the best series with the ball so far. With just two wickets and an economy rate touching nine, he needs to step up. The one thing in his favour going into the fourth T20I in Wellington is his excellent record at the venue: nine wickets in five matches at an economy rate of under six. He will hope to feed off past success and rediscover his best with New Zealand's bowling unit struggling to tie down the Indian batsmen.
Only four times in 47 innings has Jasprit Bumrah been taken for more than 40 in a T20I, and Hamilton was one of those rare occasions. In addition to the 45 he conceded in four overs of the tied match, he also went for 17 in the Super Over. Most of these runs came from Kane Williamson's bat, as he cracked the Bumrah code. How Bumrah responds in Wellington will make for compelling viewing, as this match-up gathers momentum ahead of the ODIs and Tests.
Virat Kohli has already indicated that India will be looking to change things up with the series decided in their favour. The possible changes could include Navdeep Sani coming in for Mohammed Shami and at least one of Washington Sundar and Kuldeep Yadav replacing either Yuzvendra Chahal or Ravindra Jadeja. While there may not be too many changes on the batting front, there's always a chance that India might tinker with the batting-order to give the likes of Manish Pandey a proper go.
India: (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul (wk), 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Ravindra Jadeja/Washington Sundar, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mohammed Shami/Navdeep Saini, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
For New Zealand, the one possible change could be the inclusion of seam-bowling allrounder Daryl Mitchell. He could be a near like-for-like replacement for Colin de Grandhomme, who was only available for the first three matches, and had an ordinary series.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Daryl Mitchell 6 Tim Seifert (wk), 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Scott Kuggeleijn. 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Hamish Bennett
Pitch and conditions
The team batting first has won four of the last five at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. The average score of the team batting first in the last five matches is 178. Pacers have taken more wickets at the venue since January 2018 but spinners have been marginally more economical.
A typically blustery but clear day is in the offing, although that's usually more of a factor at the open Basin Reserve.
Stats and trivia
- Rohit Sharma has played in 99 T20I innings in 107 matches. Only Shoaib Malik, with 105, has played more T20I innings.
- New Zealand have won their last six T20Is at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, a run dating back to 2014
- New Zealand's eight wins at this venue is their most at any ground in the world