Weather holds the key in India's tryst with history

Weather permitting, the fans can expect a skirmish dominated by batsmen, as only to be expected in a match of this importance, as India hopes to win its first ever Twenty20 series over New Zealand.

The pitch at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram is covered as incessant rains lash the city on the eve of the third and final T20.

The much awaited hour is here finally. And as international cricket returns to the city after a gap of close to 29 years, the fans of the game could not have asked for more. This as the three-match T20 series between India and New Zealand is so tantalisingly poised being tied at 1-all and thereby has turned the last and final tie to be a virtual clincher.

Colin Munro’s mauruder-like knock in Rajkot on Saturday is the key factor which has rekindled the interest for the last game at the Sports Hub, Kariyavattom on Tuesday.

The only dampener, though is the weather conditions what with the city being pounded with blinding rain for more than four hours on Monday and stopping both the teams from having a workout. But then, the pitch was well protected during this time and as the covers were removed late into the evening for an inspection by the Kiwi team management, the situation was not that hopeless as was initially perceived.

However, should the heavens open up in the hours leading up to the 7 p.m. start, it could well dash the hopes of the expected full house of 50,000 and deny them of the much awaited treat.

READ: When cricket comes to Sreesanth's constituency

The Munro magic, a 59-ball knock that began at the start and ended at the finish with an unbeaten 109 with seven small and big boundary shots, typified the left hander's  approach to the shortest format of the game. On Saturday, he capitalised on the flat nature of the wicket, teamed up initially with Martin Guptill, and set up a firm foundation for their side and eventually a stiff target close to ten runs an over.

READ: Colin Munro bombards India's bowlers in New Zealand win

True, that teams at this level are accustomed to the fluctuating fortunes of Twenty20 and the 40-run defeat following a big win the Feroz Shah Kotla, would have indeed touched the raw nerves of the home team, but not to the extent of giving it sleepless nights.

Young speedster Mohammed Siraj would be disappointed with his Rajkot outing, but he is not the first bowler to be carted around the park and give away bucketful of runs. Siraj went for more than 13 runs an over.

ALSO READ: ‘Siraj will be a better bowler after this experience’

India did not get the momentum at the start with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, the heroes behind the Indian win in the first match at New Delhi, not clicking, but these two crafty openers have won matches on their own and the stage is just about right for them to entertain and help India to its first ever Twenty20 series win in five years.

Skipper Virat Kohli once again showed his class at Rajkot, worked up a good half century, and became the second highest run getter in the format. But the task was too much upon him in the last match to challenge the climbing run rate as the chase neared the last five overs.

The loss a day before his 29th birthday may have lulled his and the team celebrations, but Kohli has played enough cricket to take the rough with the smooth and ready to compete in full zeal.

ALSO READ: 'Plan against Dhoni clicked in Rajkot'

Weather permitting, the fans can expect a skirmish dominated by batsmen, as only to be expected in a match of this importance.

Having received the accreditation to host an international, the venue has been used for a Ranji Trophy match, and other games, and yet there will be some suspense over how the pitch will behave for the decider. 

ALSO READ: We were not good enough with the bat, concedes Kohli

It was in 1984 (October 1) that Thiruvananthapuram got its first chance to host an international — a one-day international against Australia, which unfortunately had to be abandoned due to rain in the second session. And finally, it was on January 25, 1988, that the ODI against West Indies was played — again at the University stadium — and was won by the visitor by a huge nine-wicket margin, driven home by an unbeaten 104 by Phil Simmonds and an equally brilliant 86 by Gordon Greenidge.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan,  Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuvendra Chahal, Bhuveshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, K.L. Rahul, Manish Pandey and Mohammed Siraj.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Adam Milne, Glen Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee.