Jaipur, Nov 18 (IANS) Outstanding knocks from Rohit Sharma (48), Suryakumar Yadav (62) and a timely boundary by Rishabh Pant (17*) helped India register a five-wicket win over New Zealand in a thrilling T20 encounter, taking 1-0 lead in the three-match series at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Wednesday.
Earlier, fantastic half-centuries by Martin Guptill (70 off 42) and Mark Chapman (63 off 50) powered New Zealand to 164-6 in 20 overs. And while chasing a competitive total, openers Rohit and KL Rahul got India off to a flying start. The duo played some beautiful shots and took India to 50/0 in 5 overs.
Mitchell Santner gave New Zealand the first breakthrough in the 6th over by removing Rahul, who didn’t find the timing and was caught at square leg.
Thereafter, Suryakumar Yadav who came in at number three joined forces with his skipper to add another 59 runs for the second wicket. Both Suryakumar and Rohit looked in great touch and it seemed that they would finish the game for India but that didn’t happen.
Rohit was dismissed by his Mumbai teammate Trent Boult in the 14th over while Surya, who went on to hit his third T20I fifty, got out at a time when India were cruising at 144 for 3 in the 17th over. His dismissal gave New Zealand a glimmer of hope and they managed to bring the equation between runs required and balls left to within touching distance.
Things got too close for comfort in the final three overs with 21 runs needed off 18 balls for India as Shreyas Iyer and debutant Venkatesh Iyer got out for 5 and 4, respectively. But, Pant (17 not out off 17 balls) held his nerve and managed to get the team over the line, with 2 balls to spare.
Earlier, batting first, New Zealand were off to a bad start as they lost the wicket of Daryl Mitchell in the first over. An outstanding in-swinger from Bhuvneshwar Kumar found the gap between Mitchell’s bat and pad before crashing into the stumps.
The wicket brought Mark Chapman to middle and he along with Martin Guptill revived the New Zealand’s innings. The duo punished the bad deliveries to keep the scoreboard ticking, taking Kiwis to 41/1 at the end of the powerplay.
Both batters efficiently rotated the strike and didn’t go for big hits between 6 to 10 overs. On the other hand, Indian bowlers struggled to find a breakthrough and conceded few occasional boundaries, as New Zealand reached 65/1 at the halfway mark of the innings.
With ten overs to go, Guptill shifted gears and targeted Mohammed Siraj, scoring 16 runs in his over. In the next over, Chapman scored his impressive half-century by slamming Axar Patel’s full-toss for a huge six over deep square. Deepak Chahar was hit for 10 runs as Chapman and Guptill brought their 100-run partnership, taking Black Caps to 106/1 after 13 overs.
India were in desperate need of a breakthrough as Ashwin provided that by getting rid of the dangerous Chapman, who was looking for a big shot but the ball crashed into the stumps. Glenn Phillips came to bat next but he couldn’t do much and was dismissed by off-spinner in the same over, leaving Kiwis in some sort of trouble.
However, the quick wickets did very little to deter Guptill as he kept on playing his lofted shots and scored his 19th T20I fifty, first against the Men in Blue in the shortest format. His partner on the other side, Tim Seifert was dropped on 7 by Axar Patel in the over bowled by Bhuvneshwar.
With Guptill set, Black Caps were eyeing a big total but Chahar dismissed the attacking opener in the 18th over. Guptill mistimed his shot while trying to go over mid-wicket as Shreyas Iyer came running in and took a good low catch.
From there, Indian bowlers didn’t give any freebies to Tim Seifert (12) and Rachin Ravindra (7) and Mitchell Santner (4) and pulled things back in the death overs as New posted 164-6 in 20 overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/24) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/23) were the main wicket-takers for India.
Brief scores; New Zealand: 164/6 in 20 overs (Martin Guptill 70, Mark Chapman 63; Ravichandran Ashwin (2/23) lost to India 166/5 in 19.4 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 62, Rohit Sharma 48; Trent Boult (2/31)