Virat Kohli thought India were “down and out” in the last over of the game before the Super Over, when New Zealand needed only three to win from five balls. Ross Taylor started the last over by striking a Mohammed Shami full toss for six before taking a single, and New Zealand scored only one run – a bye – off the next three balls. Taylor was then bowled off the last ball when they needed one to win.
In the Super Over too, New Zealand were ahead after setting India 18 to win. India scored eight off the first four balls and needed 10 off two, and Rohit Sharma struck two sixes to hand the hosts another Super Over loss.
“Yeah, unbelievable. I thought at one stage we were gone, and down and out,” Kohli said at the presentation. “Kane [Williamson] batting on 95, he played a brilliant innings and I was just telling our coach they probably deserved to finish the game off the way he batted and led from the front. [I] feel bad for him, these kind of knocks when they don’t go through, I know what that feeling is.
“I thought we were gone at one stage and then when Shami bowled those two dot balls, then we got a ball and run to go. I thought, ‘ok, we could go to the Super Over’. But in the Super Over the discussion was around [how] New Zealand must be feeling some pressure because they let the game slip away and it was our turn to hit our areas. But again Kane played couple of brilliant shots against Jasprit [Bumrah] who’s probably one of the best death bowlers in the world. Again we were put under pressure, such a see-saw game. You didn’t really know what to make of it so you could just do one thing which was to stay calm, observe what’s happening and do your best.”
Kohli was all praise for Shami who was given the last over on a day Bumrah leaked 45 runs in his four overs. Shami had conceded 24 in his first three overs and even though he delivered a full toss on the first ball of the 20th over which went for six, he targeted the blockhole again to concede a single before banging in three short balls which didn’t fetch New Zealand a single run off the bat. With the scores level and one ball left, Shami aimed for the stumps again, because, as Kohli explained, New Zealand would have won otherwise.
“We got a wicket at a crucial stage, Shami again showed his experience and bowled a couple of balls outside off stump and then last ball we had a discussion. We came up with the fact that we have to try and hit the stumps otherwise it’s a single anyway and then we lose the game. So he went for it, got the wicket and the game turned on its head.
“In the Super Over as well, New Zealand again put pressure on us. Rohit was outstanding today, in the first half and the last two balls as well. We knew if he gets one hit, the bowler’s under pressure because he’s such a good striker of the ball and that’s exactly what happened, his experience came in. Overall, top day for us and beautiful game to be a part of.”
Sharma did in the end what New Zealand could not. With 10 to win off two in the Super Over, he cracked two length deliveries from Tim Southee for sixes – one over wide long-on and the other over long-off – and sealed the series for India with two matches to spare. All this after believing India had lost the game.
“Everything was packed,” Rohit said at the post-match press conference. “The whole stuff was inside my bag. I had to get it out. Literally took me five minutes to find my abdomen guard because I don’t know where it was. We never thought it’d go to the Super Over, the way they were batting. At one point it looked like they can easily win the game. But I think that Shami’s last over was crucial. That actually got us the victory, not my two sixes. We defended nine runs, it’s not easy, with the dew and the wicket settling in nicely, with two set batsmen there as well, one on 95 [Williamson] and the other their most experienced player [Taylor]. So hats off to Shami.”
On batting in the Super over itself, which he hadn’t ever done before, Sharma had a simple plan. “I’ve never done that before, so I don’t know what to expect – whether to go from the first ball or just take a single and put pressure on the last three or four balls of the over,” he said at the presentation. “I just wanted to stay still and was waiting for the bowlers to make a mistake. I know the pitch was good. Was just trying to stay still and see what I can do.”
Sharma was asked about the importance of keeping the mind blank instead of going with mindset of playing pre-determined shots. He responded saying he has always believed that the batsman held the advantage in a Super Over regardless of the how big the target is. The bowler, he pointed out, is always under pressure. But he agreed that he had to sort out some points mentally before he took guard. “I was thinking whether I should move in the crease or not, should I stay still? These were the two or three thoughts that crossed my mind,” Rohit said. “In the end I decided I would stay still (at the crease). Let him [Southee] make the mistake. And the ball pitched in my zone and I took advantage.”
Sharma had earlier top-scored too for India, with a 65 off 40 by bringing up a fifty within the powerplay itself when he hammered Hamish Bennett for 26 runs off five balls in the sixth over.
“Yeah it was a good performance, although a little disappointed with the way I got out,” Sharma assessed his day. “I should have carried on a little while. But again wanted to just come out and bat the way I bat normally. The first two games it didn’t happen but I was quite determined to do it today. We knew that if we won this game, we will win the series. So it’s important for the important members of the squad to step up and count when it matters the most.”