Weather may have the final say in decider

Should the rains relent, fans can expect a skirmish dominated by batsmen; there is, however, some suspense over how the pitch will behave

Updated - November 07, 2017 02:51 pm IST

Published - November 06, 2017 10:49 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Under a cloud:  With international cricket returning to Thiruvananthapuram after almost 29 years, the last thing fans would have wanted to see is ground staff scampering to cover the pitch after a spell of heavy rain.

Under a cloud: With international cricket returning to Thiruvananthapuram after almost 29 years, the last thing fans would have wanted to see is ground staff scampering to cover the pitch after a spell of heavy rain.

The much awaited hour is here finally as international cricket returns to the city after a gap of close to 29 years. And fans could not have asked for more with the Paytm Twenty20 three-match series between India and New Zealand tantalisingly tied one-all.

Colin Munro’s marauding knock in Rajkot on Saturday has rekindled the interest for the last game at the Sports Hub, Kariyavattom, on Tuesday.

It was on October 1, 1984, that Thiruvananthapuram got its first chance to host an international — a One-Day International against Australia, which unfortunately was abandoned due to rain in the second session.

Finally on January 25, 1988, the ODI against West Indies was completed — at the University Stadium — and was won by the visitors with a huge nine-wicket margin. They were driven home by an unbeaten 104 from Phil Simmons and an equally brilliant 86 from Gordon Greenidge.

The weather, though, could again play a dampener for Tuesday’s game. The city was pounded by blinding rain for more than four hours on Monday and stopped both teams from having a workout.

But the pitch at the Greenfield International Stadium was well-protected during this time and as the covers were removed late in the evening for an inspection by the Kiwi team management, the situation was not as 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 spectators and deny them a much awaited treat.

The Munro magic, a 59-ball knock for an unbeaten 109 that spanned the entire Kiwi innings 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, set up a firm foundation for the side and eventually posted a target that was close to 10 runs an over.

Teams at this level are accustomed to the fluctuating fortunes of T20 cricket and the 40-run defeat following that big win at the Ferozeshah Kotla would have touched a raw nerve in 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 bucketfuls of runs.

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 right for them to entertain and help India to its first ever T20 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 for him as the chase neared the last five overs.

The loss a day before his 29th birthday may have dulled his and the team’s celebrations, but Kohli has played enough cricket to take the rough with the smooth.

Weather permitting, the fans can expect a skirmish dominated by batsmen.

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

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra 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.

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