Millennium Post

The choke is real

As much as New Zealand wanted to leave behind the ghosts of July 14, 2019, the gods seem to have pledged abstinence against the victory of the Black Caps even in their own den with India ending as the better team in back-to-back Super Over clashes

The choke is real

With India whitewashing the hosts 5-0, the visitors managed a series win on the island for the first time and it was also the first time of a side winning a five-match T20 series with that margin. The series has pampered the fans so much that nothing less than a Super Over would be regarded fun.

The New Zealand team has been on the receiving end of Super Overs more often than not. It has been a one-sided love affair – nothing more heartbreaking in international cricket than New Zealand's Super Over losses. In three days, the Kiwis lost two Super Over contests against India with the visitors winning a series for the first time in the island country. Besides, it has also been their fourth straight Super Over loss in the last seven months.

Out of eight Super Over contests so far, they have managed just one victory. The love story dates back to December 26, 2008, when the 'Universe Boss', Chris Gayle clobbered Daniel Vettori for 25 runs after the match ended in a draw. In response, the Kiwis lost both the wickets of Ross Taylor and Jacob Oram for 15 runs. Though 25 in six balls was a bit too much, it marked the beginning of a tragic affair between the Kiwis and Super Overs.

In the next encounter against Australia (2010), the Super-Over turned out to be the opposite of what the match's been. 428 runs were scored by both the teams in the allotted 40 overs, whereas on the contrary, Australia managed just six runs in the Super Over as Southee bowling with fire. It took three deliveries for Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill to wrap up the show.

Two years later at the 2012 ICC World T20, the Black Caps were up against the Lankans. Chasing 14 runs to victory, the Kiwis rather surrendered to Malinga as they managed to score only seven runs despite the likes of McCullum, Guptill and Ross Taylor. To make things from bad to worse, was the group match of the same tournament against the West Indies. Ross Taylor's carnage was undone by Gayle and Marlon Samuels and the team from the Caribbeans knocked the Kiwis out of the World Cup and went on to win the tournament.

The Kiwi team's Super Over love affair was only escalated in last year's 50-over World Cup – probably the best finish to a World Cup. The memories of Ben Stokes' 'Bat of God' incident remains fresh. Chasing 16 to win in the Super Over, the Black Caps managed the same number of runs but were somehow handed the defeat in terms of boundary count.

A few months later after the much controversial World Cup final at Lords, the Kiwis hosted the England team at Auckland and the series was on the line. Another Super Over drama! Jos Butler and captain Morgan took on Southee to pile up 17 runs. Without Jofra Archer, the Kiwis would have smelled a victory, but Chris Jordan had his intentions clear. He wrapped the Kiwi innings for just eight runs and New Zealand were yet again 'so close, yet so far'.

Came in 2020. Two back to back matches decided by a Super Over. With India winning the first two of the five-match series, the series was on the line for the Kiwis in the third T20I. A tie meant the Black Caps would be going into a Super Over in a T20I for the sixth time, having only managed one win – a decade earlier. With 10 required off two balls, Rohit Sharma was Southee's destructor this time – smashing two maximums off the last two balls and handing India a long-awaited series win.

The very next game resulted in another Super Over. Though New Zealand should have on the game in their allotted quota, they somehow find reasons for ending the match in a tie. Defending 16, Southee started from where he left two nights earlier. KL Rahul opened the Indian innings with a six over long-on – started from where Rohit left a couple of nights back. By now, Southee's last three international deliveries had resulted in three sixes. Captain Kohli ensured that India won't be the team that would unite two lost lovers with a pull wide of mid-wicket.

Tim Southee – out of eight T20I Super Over encounters, has been the bowler for the Kiwis on six instances. He managed to kill the game against the Aussies in Christchurch back in 2010, but since then it has been five encounters to forget for the man from the Northern Districts. Baring the victory against Australia where he went for six runs, he has bowled 28 balls and has been hammered for 85 runs at a staggering economy of 19.31 – 13 (5) vs SL 2012, 19 (6) vs WI 2012, 17 (6) vs ENG 2019, 20 (6) vs IND 2020 and 16 (5) vs IND 2020.

New Zealand has always been the 'second-favourite' team for many. The inability to close-in crunch situations only indicates that the Kiwis have let them slip into a 'psychological' zone where only they could help themselves and a Super Over victory seems desperate. They did 'manage to lose' games after squandering winning positions.

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