INDIA TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND, 2019
Cricbuzz Staff •
New Zealand capped off their home series against India with a T20I series victory © Getty
In a game that had numerous momentum shifts, New Zealand were able to withstand the pressure of bowling in the slog overs to chart the home team’s series-clinching four-run victory in the third and final T20I against India. Despite the best efforts of Krunal Pandya (26*) and Dinesh Karthik (33*), the visitors ended up with 208 for 6 while chasing down a target of 213.
With five overs to go, the visitors needed an imposing 68. However, the duo of Karthik and Krunal joined hands to lift the side. Karthik, who replaced MS Dhoni at the crease, started his innings on the right note by pulling Daryl Mitchell for a six.
It was in the 18th over of the innings when India clawed their way back into the game with Krunal taking a heavy toll on Tim Southee. The all rounder manufactured room to thump the experienced pacer a couple of times through the off side. He also received a bit of luck as an inside edge whistled past the short third man fielder and onto the boundary hoardings.
Krunal and Karthik continued to put up an impressive exhibition of power-hitting with a couple of sixes off Scott Kuggeleijn in the penultimate over. In the last over bowled by Southee, the tourists required 16. The veteran pacer, though, used all his experience to keep a lid on the big hits as India slid to a defeat.
For large parts of India’s innings, whenever the visitors threatened to take the game away from New Zealand’s grasp, they lost wickets. Vijay Shankar and Rohit Sharma strung together a stand of 75 runs for the second wicket to keep India in the hunt.
At a crucial juncture of the game, Shankar tried one shot too many and fell to Mitchell Santner. Rishabh Pant, batting at No.4, then hit the accelerator pedal with a string of powerful blows. He was severe on Ish Sodhi and Santner by clubbing the spin duo for three sixes across two overs. At one point of time, Pant had raced to 23 off just six balls.
With Pant looking in ominous touch, a few fingernails would have been chewed in the New Zealand camp. However, Mitchell and Blair Tickner mixed up their pace well to pull things and that eventually led to the wicket of Pant. The wicketkeeper-batsman could only slog a low full toss from the debutant Tickner straight to Kane Williamson at midwicket.
Rohit, who struggled to up the ante, was dislodged by Mitchell as India dipped further. Karthik and Krunal tried to revive India’s chase but they had too much to do. A large share of the credit has to go to New Zealand’s bowlers for the win. The wicket was flat and to make matters worse for the bowlers, dew settled in during India’s innings.
Earlier, Colin Munro explored all corners of the ground to compose a scintillating 40-ball 72 and set the platform for a massive total. He tore apart the bowling of Krunal by collecting two sixes and two boundaries. He soon reached his fifty with a cleanly hit six off Hardik Pandya that cleared the long on fence.
Tim Seifert (43) and Colin de Grandhomme (30) also played crucial hands to push the total past 200. Kuldeep Yadav was the lone bowler from the Indian side who troubled the hosts and returned impressive figures of 2 for 26 from his quota of four overs.
Meanwhile, the Indian camp would ponder about their lacklustre fielding following the end of their 10-series unbeaten streak in the shortest format (9 wins and a draw). The point was evidenced by Khaleel Ahmed fluffing a sitter on the on side to give Munro a reprieve off Hardik. Alongside the drop catch, there were also quite a few fumbles and misfields.
Brief scores: New Zealand 212/4 in 20 overs (Colin Munro 72; Kuldeep Yadav 2-26) beat India 208/6 in 20 overs (Vijay Shankar 43; Daryl Mitchell 2-27) by four runs.