Even though their batting failed, the bowlers, backed by excellent fielding, guided India past New Zealand by six runs in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday to claim the three-match Twenty20 International series 2-1. The game was reduced to eight-overs-a-side due to rain as international cricket returned to Thiruvananthapuram after a gap of 29 years.
After setting a modest target of 68 runs after rain forced the start of the third and deciding T20 to be delayed by two-and-a-half hours, India restricted the Black Caps to 61/6 at the Greenfield Stadium, which on Tuesday became India’s 50th international cricket venue.
A sharp bowling performance from New Zealand had restricted India at 67/5. Indian batsmen were also partly to blame as they tried to go for the big shots from the word go. Openers Shikhar Dhawan (6) and Rohit Sharma (8) started in a flashy way and had to pay the price even before they settled down.
The hosts lost their openers off consecutive deliveries off pacer Tim Southee (2/13), who made a comeback to the Black Caps playing XI after missing out in Rajkot.
Virat Kohli (13) was in action too from the start, attacking Ish Sodhi. The India captain hit the spinner for a four and a six but then got out to the New Zealander while going for a big one.
Shreyas Iyer (6) and Manish Pandey (17) tried to stabilise the ship but Sodhi picked up another with Iyer departing in the sixth over, holing it out at long-off.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Santner took a stunner, after having dropped a couple earlier in the series, when he flew to take the catch of Iyer before throwing the ball to Colin de Grandhomme, who completed the catch at the boundary.
Hardik Pandya remained unbeaten at 14 after hitting a huge six with MS Dhoni, who did not get to face even a single delivery.
New Zealand started their reply poorly, losing Martin Guptill (1) to a slower delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/18). Three balls later danger man Colin Munro (7) got dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah with Rohit taking a brilliant catch while running towards long-off.
Indian bowlers then choked the run flow with Kuldeep Yadav (1/10) scalping Glenn Phillips (11), a ball after captain Kane Williamson (8) unnecessarily ran himself out. In a moment of crisis, the New Zealand batsmen threw their bat and ran for everything, only to lose the plot and the match.