India have whitewashed New Zealand in the T20I series on their soil and registered the name in the record books as it became the first team to clean sweep a five-match Twenty20 series in the history of cricket. The fifth and final game was played at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday (Feb 02), where ‘Men in Blue’ created this unique world record.
There were quite a few heroes for Team India in this series. For New Zealand, there were some performances which will help them to evaluate players as the main focus of both sides is to find the best squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in Australia later this year.
As the series is now over, let’s have a look at the best-combined XI:
1.) KL Rahul
KL Rahul, who is enjoying the purple match, completely owned the Kiwi bowlers. The Karnataka-born scored 224 runs in five games with two half-centuries and hence was gratified with the ‘Player of the series’ award.
The 27-year-old also showcased immense skills with the gloves. Never for a moment, it looked like Rahul is not a regular wicket-keeper. Most importantly, his extra work behind the wickets didn’t impact on his batting. Without a doubt, he will be the wicket-keeper in the combined XI team.
2.) Colin Munro
Despite being dominated wholly, there were still some positives for the hosts. Opener Colin Munro scored 178 runs in the series with two half-centuries. The left-handed batsman did help his team to get better of the visitors, but somehow it couldn’t happen.
Munro’s opening partner Martin Guptill didn’t have the best series, but considering his form in the last year, there were some positives. At some stages, it looked like that Guptill is getting back into the touch. However, when it comes to combined playing XI, Munro is far ahead of Guptill.
3.) Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma also smashed two fifties in four-matches and played a crucial role in the series win by the Indian team. His back-to-back sixes on the last two balls of Tim Southee’s over led the visitors to win in the ‘Super Over’ in the 3rd game.
The 32-year-old will be the captain of the combined XI team. He was the leader in the final game of the series, though he couldn’t carry on as he suffered a hamstring while batting.
4.) Shreyas Iyer
India’s middle-order batsman and new generation icon, Shreyas Iyer guided his side in the series opener with a 29-ball 58 runs knock. The right-hander continued the momentum in the second game as well. He scored a match-winning 44.
However, Iyer couldn’t carry on the form in the remaining matches, though he did contribute 33 off 31 in the final game, but the kind of talent Iyer possesses, it surely wasn’t up to the mark. The 25-year-old finished the series with 153 runs.
5.) Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson will bat at No.5 in this team. He had a terrible series as a skipper of the New Zealand team as if this wasn’t enough, he injured his shoulder and couldn’t play in the last two matches.
However, as a batsman, Williamson had a decent series. He ended up as the third leading run-scorer (160) for the Kiwis after Munro and Ross Taylor. He was a bit unlucky as even after scoring 95 in the third game, his side lost the contest.
6.) Ross Taylor
New Zealand veteran player Ross Taylor had a good series with the bat, but it would’ve been better had if his knocks helped the team to win any game in the series. Taylor smashed 166 runs in five matches with two-half centuries.
In both the third and fourth games, it was Taylor’s wicket, which resulted in the ‘Super Over.’ At the Bay Oval, the 35-year-old took India’s Shivam Dube to the cleaners, along with his batting partner Tim Seifert. The duo slammed 34 runs in the over.
7.) Ravindra Jadeja
For the all-rounder, India’s Ravindra Jadeja fills the spot pretty well. The left-hander broke the partnerships at crucial positions to never let the Kiwis dominate in any game. He didn’t play in the last two T20Is, and surely the Indian team missed his absence.
Washington Sundar, who replaced the Jamnagar-born, failed to impress as the right-hander leaked a lot of runs and gave the Kiwi batsmen the desired momentum. Even with the bat, Sundar wasn’t able to perform. He got out for a duck in the fourth game.
8.) Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur bowled brilliantly in the entire series, especially in the death overs, including the heart-stopping ‘Super Over’ in the fourth T20I.
In five matches, Thakur grabbed eight wickets. Although he was a bit expensive in the first two games, but he made a comeback in the remaining matches.
9.) Jasprit Bumrah
Considered as the death bowling specialist in the modern-day cricket, Jasprit Bumrah wasn’t in his prime touch. At Seddon Park in Hamilton, Bumrah conceded 45 runs in his four overs. Even in the ‘Super Over,’ he gave 17 runs.
The Ahmedabad-born bowler did make his comeback in the final match at Bay Oval, where he gave only 12 runs in his four overs and struck three crucial Kiwi wickets. Overall, he took six wickets in the series.
10.) Ish Sodhi
New Zealand’s most economical bowler in the series, Ish Sodhi, will lead the spin attack in the combined XI team. In the opening game, he was a bit expensive as he went for 36 runs in four overs. However, in the Hamilton T20I, Sodhi conceded just 23 runs.
In the Wellington T20I, Sodhi performed exceptionally well and picked up three wickets for 26 runs in four overs. Overall, the leg-spinner scalped six wickets in the series.
11.) Hamish Bennett
Despite not getting any wicket in the first two games, Hamish Bennett ended up earning six wickets in the series. He was a bit expensive in five matches but did take vital wickets.
In the final game, Bennett was the most economical bowler for New Zealand. In his four overs, the right-armer gave only 21 runs with one wicket. Bennett took three wickets in the third T20I, though he conceded 54 runs as well.
The 32-year-old will support the pace battery, which includes Bumrah and Thakur in the combined XI team.
Here’s the combined XI:
KL Rahul (wk), Colin Munro, Rohit Sharma (c), Shreyas Iyer, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Ravindra Jadeja, Ish Sodhi, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Hamish Bennett.