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Suryakumar Yadav, the standout performer in the second T20I between New Zealand and India in Mount Maunganui, made all the difference in the game, according to veteran paceman Tim Southee.
India posted a formidable 191/6 on the back of Suryakumar's 51-ball 111. New Zealand could only muster 126 in response before being bowled out in the 19th over, with all batters struggling to get going.
"Anytime a T20 player gets a hundred in a match, it's quite often the difference. You look at the rest of the side and the way we sort of batted, his innings was miles apart from anything else we saw today. Probably made them get to a score that was probably a little bit more than what we were hoping for. It was an exceptional innings and it was the difference between restricting India to 175-180 and then getting above 190," said Southee at the post-match press conference on Sunday (November 20).
"That's probably the way to sum it up - never really got going," added Southee about the New Zealand chase. "Anytime it looked like it was about to get going, we lost a wicket. That's credit to the way India bowled. They had a decent score on the board. If you're able to take regular wickets and early wickets, then that makes that score even bigger. Just not able to get going and when you're chasing a score like that, you need to blunt it with a decent partnership at some stage" he added.
After being asked to bat, India managed 75/2 at the halfway point of the first innings, with Suryakumar on 18 off 13.
India's No. 4 reached the half-century mark in the 16th over, taking 32 deliveries before shifting into high gear.
Suryakumar's next 61 runs came off only 19 balls, and despite not facing a single delivery in the final over, in which Southee bagged a hat-trick, he had done enough damage to help India reach a commanding total.
"He's a player that can hit you and hurt you in a number of areas. He's had a great 12-18 months in IPL, international cricket. Came up against a pretty impressive knock today. The guys will reassess and come up with something for Napier," said Southee.
"There's been a number of great T20 players from India. They produce so many good cricketers. Sky's had a great 12 months. It's there for him to continue to do so and continue to play the way he has. But you look at guys that have played for a long period of time and achieved so much over a long period of time ... India have always produced amazing cricketers not only in T20 cricket but across all three formats."