Rohit Sharma might be among the best limited-overs batsmen in International cricket now, but if there's one problem he has, it is against swing bowling. There are a few bowlers that have as much control over swing as Tim Southee. As such, it is no surprise that the Kiwi has a stupendous record against Rohit in limited-overs cricket.
Across formats, Southee has dismissed Rohit Sharma nine times - thrice in T20Is, five times in ODIs and once in Tests. In the last T20I at Eden Park, Southee had coaxed Rohit into a drive to find the outside edge early in the innings.
Coming into the Hamilton game, Rohit had two single-digit scores and was pretty clear on New Zealand's plan against him - throw Southee and some swing his way. Rohit cut down on his front foot strokes in the V against Southee but pounced on anything short or wide.
The first over had just one boundary off a cut shot and five dots as Rohit warmed up into his knock before he unleashed a flurry of boundaries to get to a 23-ball half-century. This was a different Rohit on show and it was pretty evident for anyone aware of the Mumbaikar's set template in limited-overs cricket.
Instead of biding his time to accelerate, Rohit played Southee with a definite plan and then took on the other bowlers to take India to a respectable total. His task for the night wasn't done, though, as he had to come back in a rather unfamiliar role - as a power player in the Super Over. Unsurprisingly, he had his nemesis, Southee, waiting for him.
Now, Rohit has a queer record in Super Overs in T20s right from 2012 when he first played a game against West Indies A and was run out for nought. In 2017 for Mumbai against Gujarat in the Indian T20 League, Rohit came out at one drop in the Super Over and didn't face a ball. Against Hyderabad last year too, he didn't get a chance despite being an assigned player in the Super Over.
This was his first real chance in a Super Over and Rohit knew with no Hardik Pandya or Rishabh Pant to provide the power, he had to shelve his plan against Southee and take him on.
Despite being India's most capped player in all T20s with 327 appearances, Rohit hadn't scored a single run in Super Overs until today.
None of that mattered, though, as with two balls remaining India needed 10 runs and Rohit turned into Hitman. He was although helped with the fact that Tim Southee, despite his record against Rohit, isn't exactly a Super Over specialist.
In the 2012 World T20, Southee could not defend 17 in an over against West Indies. Including today, Southee has conceded 17 runs or more in Super Overs thrice, speaking of a bowler who doesn't quite match up to the modern death bowling skills needed by bowlers.
This lack of variations stood out in the Super Over as he dished out two length deliveries off the final two balls. Rohit, in his own flashy style, smoked back to back sixes to win the game for India and bury his issues against Southee forever.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Michael Bradley