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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Ro(w)hit ~ Kiwis ill-luck with Super Over continues !!

What a match ! ~ what a thriller T20 no. 1035 at Hamilton turned out to be !! – have you been haunted by the memories of Austral-Asia Cup finals at Sharjah, Apr 18 1986! New Zealand team would try hard  to forget today and expunge any  reminiscence of that T20 match at Auckland on Dec 26, 2008.  They also would be forever haunted by the memories of World Cup 2019 ODI Final in which they were robbed off the Cup by a ridiculous rule – ‘Super over’ ! ..

For the not so well informed – a ‘Super Over; called  a one-over eliminator  is a tie-breaking method used in limited-overs cricket matches, where both teams play a single, additional over of six balls to determine the winner of the match. A match which goes to a Super Over is officially declared a "tie", and won by the team who scored the most runs in the Super Over. If the Super Over also ends in a tie, the winner is typically decided by some other parameters.  A Super Over was first used in 2008 in Twenty20, replacing the bowl-out method that was previously used for breaking a tie. The Super Over was introduced into One Day International (ODI) cricket at the 2011 Cricket World Cup knockout stage, but it was left unused.

The entertaining Cricket World Cup 2019 ended with ‘a virtual no result’ – yes – ‘a tie’ – a super over ending in another tie but England winning the tournament after 48 games, for the first time and, and New Zealand not losing the match !   "Ridiculous", "absurd", "random", "arbitrary", "unsatisfactory", "galling", "unfortunate", "a shame" ~ is what Kiwis media had to scream for they felt treated unfair.  Black Caps fate  on a World Cup final was decided by a countback of boundaries hit.   The hosts England became the World Champions after tying with New Zealand on 241 each after their respective 50 overs. They both scored 15 in the super-over shootout – but England won thanks to hitting more boundaries in their 50 overs.    
Today there was another Super Over – NZ after performing so well, were swept off – ended up losing the Series.  Things appeared rosy – they batted first in the Super over and the best end-over bowler Jasprit Bumrah was ripped.

Williamson and Martin Guptill opened for  New Zealand. Kane  Williamson was on strike – field of  deep point, long-on, fine leg, deep midwicket, and deep square leg  on the boundary. First ball hit to longoff for a single; next Martin Guptill took another single. 3rd ball was taken from outside off and hoicked over square leg for a 6. A full toss on leg stump followed and was scooped over mid-off for a 4; next they sneaked a bye as KL Rahul missed the stumps. Last ball was it in the gap between deep midwicket and longon for another 4.  17 runs after 2 from 2 ! – good start indeed.

In the match, Kane Williamson made this the classic it turned out to be, scoring 95 off 48 balls - 25 of those runs were made off the normally unhittable Jasprit Bumrah, at a time when the chase was becoming unbearably close - but his team-mates let him down. Walking off the field, with the equation reading two off three balls, he would never have imagined - even having endured that bizarro World Cup final - the events that followed.  Credit is due to Mohammed Shami – final over  started with a six off the first ball – yet strove manfully to  beat Tim Seifert not once but twice with short and wide deliveries and then bowled Ross Taylor off the last ball of the match to force a tie.

The match was all the way - Williamson's stellar 95 from 48 balls had brought the Black Caps back from near-certain defeat at Hamilton's Seddon Park, only for a shambolic finish to unfold; the hosts butchering the final over, and the match going into the most despised of all the tiebreakers.  Their cup of woes, in the World Cup final, then the England Twenty20 decider, and now, a third Super Over in six months. This time, Williamson and Martin Guptill produced what should have been a winning total, hitting 17 from Jasprit Bumrah's Super Over, only for Rohit Sharma – needing 10 from two balls - to smack Tim Southee for back-to-back sixes to send another dagger into New Zealand hearts.

The template for how to bat had earlier been set by Rohit  Sharma, who took 27 from an over from Hamish Bennett, as part of 65 from 40 balls. At 77-0 after seven overs, India had set a stellar platform, but the Black Caps – aided by a wicket that saw slower balls grip bowled well.  Indicating that he felt the wicket had slowed, Virat Kohli's 38 off 27 was a measured approach to setting a difficult target, and while Ish Sodhi made things difficult with four overs for just 23 runs, Southee saw his final over go for 18 as India reached 179-5. It looked a tricky total, and a winning one when Williamson surveyed the scene with seven overs left. 80 runs were needed, Jadeja looked unplayable, and the best death bowler in the world, Bumrah, had two overs left.

Black Caps had someone special to draw on as well. Jadeja went for two sixes, Bumrah was carved for three fours, and with India having a horrendous day in the field, several singles were turned into quick-thinking twos as the equation rapidly reduced – from 52 from 30, to 29 from 18, then 20 from 12. Not even Bumrah could stop the flow, and when suddenly just two runs were required from four balls, the game looked in the bag. .. .. but alas, not to be for Black Caps for another time.  Kane got out in that last over having made a great 95.  Tim Seifert couldn't connect with the next two deliveries, scampering a bye off the second to leave Ross Taylor needing one to win from the final ball. An inside edge onto the stumps was all he could muster, and lo and behold, it was time for another ludicrous Super Over.

Another Super Over decider - another heartbreak. .. and what a thriller it turned out to be.  New Zealand lost their third consecutive Twenty20 match - and the series - against India in Hamilton on Wednesday night in the most punishing way. Rohit Sharma smashed 16 runs off the last three balls of India's batting Super Over to give them victory and a 3-0 series lead. 

Tim Southee had the ball and it was Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – for once I thought India might be tempted to use the inexperienced big hitter Shivam Dube or Virat Kohli himself !  first ball Rohit slogged could get what he wanted, ended up running two – a hard throw would have challenged, though Seifert fumbled in collecting. 2nd ball was a single; 3rd was a sweep slog by Rahul for 4 – 11 off 3 and 4th was a single. 10 off 2 -  Southee was launched over wide longon for a big six !  Then came the cruncher – a brilliant lofted inside-out shot over long-off for another 6. Incredible are the six hitting ways of Rohit Sharma and the successive sixers took India home ! ~ what a win.

Kiwis would certainly have been heart-broken .. now getting back to some history, the first ever Super Over was on 26th Dec 2008 also involving New Zealand and West Indies.  Daniel Vettori was the "nominated bowler" for New Zealand; while  Chris Gayle and Xavier Marshall opened the "mini-innings".  Marshall was run out without facing a ball, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul  remained at the non-striker's end. The big burly Christopher  Gayle hit 25 runs off the 6 balls he faced.  Sulieman Benn was the nominated bowler for the West Indies.  NZ opener Jacob Oram was caught on Benn's third "Super Over" delivery. Ross Taylor hit a six but was then clean bowled on the next ball. Oram's "Super Over" opening partner Brendon McCullum didn't face a delivery. So NZ were allout for 15/2 in 5 balls losing the first ever Super over in T20.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Jan 2020.

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