New Delhi: Rain played spoilsport in the first half of the series deciding T20I between India and New Zealand at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday. But the weather gods finally relented and the toss happened for a rain-shortened game at 9: 15pm IST. Coming out at the toss, India skipper Virat Kohli promised the packed stadium complete entertainment and the Indian boys kept their word as they won a thriller by 6 runs to take the series 2-1.
Speaking at the toss, Kohli said: “It is a short game, we will just come out and express ourselves. I think they (fans) have been really patient and it is a long time since a game has happened here so they deserve to see some action. We will try to give them as much entertainment as possible.”
And entertainment it was as the two teams slogged it out and gave it their all. In fact, it was one of the closest finishes as the Kiwis needed 10 runs off the last 2 balls with big-hitting Colin de Grandhomme at the crease. Hardik Pandya though held his nerve as India romped home, much to the delight of the fans at India’s 50th ODI venue.
The Indian bowlers held on to their nerves in a rain-curtailed decider as the hosts edged out a spirited New Zealand side by 6 runs to clinch the T20 international series 2-1.
The Kiwis needed 68 runs to win the match in 8 overs but the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/18), Jasprit Bumrah (2/9) and Yuzvendra Chahal (0/8) bowled exceptionally well under pressure to restrict the Kiwis.
Chasing the target New Zealand looked on track in the first over as danger man Colin Munro slogged Bhuvneshwar over deep mid-wicket for a huge six. But the Indian medium pacer came back well to clean bowl Martin Guptill to peg the visitors back.
Jasprit Bumrah then provided the telling blow by sending back Munro for 7, who was caught brilliantly by Rohit Sharma at mid on as the Kiwis slumped to 11/2 after two overs. The duo Kane Williamson and Glenn Phillips failed to get the big ones away and at the halfway stage, New Zealand were 24/2, needing 44 off the remaining four overs to win the match.
Hardik Pandya's direct hit sent back Williamson while Phillips was caught in the deep off the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav as New Zealand were now in dire straits at 28/4.
Yuzvendra Chahal was at the peak of his powers as he bowled two miserly overs to ensure the pressure was right on the Kiwis at all times. Colin de Grandhomme (17) tried his best to keep New Zealand in the game but Hardik Pandya kept his cool to ensure the Indian juggernaut would keep rolling.
Earlier, on a new track, that had a lot of moisture, the Indians didn't quite have the best of starts as the opening pair of Rohit Sharma (8) and Shikhar Dhawan (6) found it difficult to get going and were removed off successive deliveries by Tim Southee.
Virat Kohli tried to up the ante and looked in pristine touch as he hit Ish Sodhi for a boundary and then a six off successive deliveries. But Kohli's desire to get quick runs resulted in his downfall as he holed out in the deep to Boult for 13 off Sodhi.
The Indian batsmen found the going tough and crucial contributions from Manish Pandey (17) and Hardik Pandya (14) took the hosts to a below par total of 67/5
On the bowling front, the New Zealanders were right on the money as Trent Boult and Tim Southee produced miserly spells and just gave away 26 runs together. To top it, they got three prized scalps of Rohit, Shikhar and Pandey.