After the blistering performance in the first T20 of this series and tasting victory for the first time against the Kiwis, few would have anticipated such a pusillanimous performance from the hosts in the second T20 in Rajkot, courtesy – a violent onslaught by the southpaw from New Zealand – Colin Munro.
Munro’s score of 109 of 54 balls almost singlehandedly took the Indians out of the game, despite an aesthetically pleasing innings from Virat Kohli (65 of 42 balls) and a brisk-but-still-not-good-enough 49 from the quondam skipper, MS Dhoni.
When this series commenced, many experts deemed this New Zealand side as mere sitting ducks after the performance the men in blue put up against their immediate neighbours. Albeit the Men in Black took everyone by surprise in the first ODI, Munro wasn’t able to contribute substantially.
In the second match, the situation exacerbated when he got knocked over by Bhuvneshwar Kumar very cheaply. Hadn’t he given such a wonderful riposte by thwacking every Indian pacer, especially Bhuvneshwar all around the park at Green Park, he could have been dropped from his side. But Munro came back and came back solidly with an iridescent 75 of 62. Unless Chahal’s unplayable ripper had cleaned him up through the gate, the series could have ended on an entirely different note.
Unlike the rest of the series, luck was on this opener’s side last night. He got four reprieves in his innings. First he got dropped by Bhuvneshwar at deep mid-wicket right in the beginning. Then the debutant Shreyas Iyer dropped a dolly at long-on when he was in 36. A genuinely inaccurate throw from Rohit Sharma in the 12th over was his third reprieve and finally Chahal squandered away a fairly simple chance when he was at 79.
Colin Munro literally annihilated Muhammad Siraj’s bowling figures and the rest of the bowling unit also got victimised in the carnage. The slow bowling tactic that seemed to be working in this series so far, proved to be absolutely futile in front of him.
Believed it or not, Colin Munro is the first overseas batsman to score a century in T20 against India in their own backyard. He broke the record of another fellow New Zealander Brendon McCullum (91 in Chennai in 2012). He also managed a sui generis feat of scoring two T20 hundreds in one calendar year after McCullum. The principal reason behind his bestial hitting ability is the judicious choice of his strokes and his propensity to play within the traditional arc of stroke-playing in lieu of trying anything fancy or cheeky.
Having said all of this, it can never be foreseen straightaway that he will become a sine qua non for the Kiwis in the future. He hasn’t faced the top spinners of the world like R. Ashwin or Yasir Shah on crumbling wickets yet and his previous affair with the quintessential format of the game wasn’t very pleasant. But this can surely be concluded, if this talented New Zealander continues to hone his ability this way, he might have become an incredible asset for the Kiwis in future, at least in the limited overs formats.
Photo by СНΛЯАKΛ