Hamilton, Jan 27: In awe of Jasprit Bumrah, New Zealand wicketkeeper Tim Seifert says the Indian speedster's subtle variations have been difficult to pick in the ongoing T20 series and his side needs to learn a thing or two about adapting from the visitors.
India beat New Zealand by seven wickets in the second T20 International in Auckland on Sunday to grab a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. Bumrah returned with figures of 1-21 from his four overs as Indian skipper Virat Kohli changed his bowling plans from the first game.
"Even in the first game, Bumrah bowled slower balls that were going wider. Normally, death bowlers get into straighter lines, plus yorkers and mix it with chest height. He kind of changes things a lot and is tougher to play," Seifert said. "...the ball was holding a lot more which made it tougher. So sometimes as a batsman you have to move away from the stumps and see if they bowl straight. I was backing myself to do something different instead of just standing there at the wicket," said the stumper, who remained unbeaten on 33 off 26 balls.
"It was tricky and the ball was holding a little bit. When Kane (Williamson) got out in the over against Yuzvendra Chahal, we knew it was the over to push because they had Bumrah coming back," he added.
He said New Zealand batsmen need to take a cue from their Indian counterparts on how to adapt to different conditions quickly. "...Indian batsmen showed how to get under the ball and time it. They showed it a couple of times that and on the slower wickets you just have to keep it like that. Once you lose your shape, you are not in position," he said.
"Try to get them (bowlers) off line or off balance, try to get into that position to hit good balls. That's T20 cricket as well. Sometimes it's going 100 percent but sometimes you have to take a breath and re-assess. Indian batters did that well."
Seifert believes New Zealand bowlers did reasonably well in the two games but they have been outplayed by the Indian batsmen. "To be honest, in the first game they were 110-1 and they had wickets in hand. We didn't bowl too badly in that first game. In the second game, we only got 130 and it is tough to bowl at Eden Park (with that total)," he said.
"170 was the target in mind but once you get 130 on the board, that was going to be very hard at Eden Park against a team that is very strong and playing really well. But our spinners were outstanding. Good balls have gone to boundary. He said coming into the T20 series on the back of a lost Test rubber in Australia also didn't help New Zealand's cause in the first two games.
"Boys are coming off a Test series (in Australia) and a lot of them haven't played T20 cricket for a while," he said.
"But for some like me, I have had the Super Smash for the last two months, so I have played a lot of T20 cricket. They have two games under their belt now so hopefully they will have a better understanding."
Asked if New Zealand would want to play on India's strength of chasing, Seifert replied, "Even in ODI cricket, India have chased down big totals but I think on that wicket it was going to get slower and slower.
"But with that small target on Eden Park, something special has to happen with top six (for a collapse). One batsman got fifty and the other was batting very well. We needed top five-six in the first 10 overs," he said.
The Black Caps are still confident of bouncing back in the series. The third T20 will be played here on Wednesday before back-to-back matches in Wellington and Mt Maunganui.
Seifert said they would like to replicate the 2019 tour of India, where New Zealand came out 2-1 victorious in the three-match series. "We have lost the first two games but we haven't played badly. We definitely haven't played our best though while India has played very well. If we lose the series on Wednesday, it is not the end of the world. But if we can turn things around, and win, we will take things from there," he said.
"We won the series 2-1 last time, so we have to treat it like a three match series again. But we have to treat it like the first two are must-win games." Seifert said New Zealand have plenty of time and matches to prepare for the ICC T20 World Cup to be held in Australia later this year.
"We are not playing our best at the moment. There are 20-odd games before the World Cup, and that tournament is the pinnacle, so we will get there (in preparation),” he signed off.