India 135 for 3 (Rahul 57*, Iyer 44, Southee 2-20) beat New Zealand 132 for 5 (Seifert 33*, Guptill 33, Jadeja 2-18) by five wickets
Last weekend India were rescuing a home ODI series against Australia. Their jet lag had not yet receded when they raced to a 2-0 lead in the T20I series in New Zealand on Sunday. It was down to their superior bowling once again as they restricted New Zealand to a mere 132, the third-lowest total at Eden Park. Jasprit Bumrah was sensational once again but he found more heroes in the support cast: Ravindra Jadeja took two middle-order wickets, and Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Shami handcuffed the New Zealand batsmen.
On a slow pitch, India didn’t find the chase to be a cakewalk, but KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer absorbed the pressure before finishing off in style. Rahul’s purple patch continued with his second fifty on tour. Had New Zealand run him out – stranded mid-pitch – on 42, the remaining 47 off 38 balls might even have become a challenge. It wasn’t to be as India romped home with 15 balls to spare.
Munro slows New Zealand down
New Zealand seemed to have looked at the slowness of the pitch when deciding to bat first, which makes the Powerplay even more important: you want to score your runs against the new ball and with the field up. However, Colin Munro’s struggles put Martin Guptill under pressure to go after the bowling. When Yuzvendra Chahal squeezed in the fifth over for just seven runs, the sixth over – bowled by Shardul Thakur – became really important. New Zealand had just 39 after five overs with Munro struggling at 14 off 13.
With teams zero down, the sixth over is usually the most difficult to bowl in a Powerplay. Guptill reinforced the challenge with two boundaries in the first four balls, but when he tried to sign the Powerplay off with a six off the last ball, Thakur managed to keep the ball just wide enough to get a toe-edged skier. New Zealand 48 for 1 after six.
Chahal keeps up the pressure, Dube cashes in
Chahal backed up that over with just five runs in his second over, the eighth of the innings. Having hit Shivam Dube for a ramped six in his first over, Munro now needed to line Dube up when he bowled a second over in a row. At 63 for 1 after eight, with three Bumrah overs left, New Zealand just had to go after Dube. Munro pulled the third ball of this over for a four to finally go past strike rate of 100. Next ball, though, went straight to short cover for a catch with Dube having cramped him up again. New Zealand 68 for 2 in 8.4 overs.
Jadeja finds turn
After one Bumrah over to look for a wicket, Jadeja was introduced in the 11th over. In the last match he bowled just two overs. He and Dube constitute India’s fifth bowler. Dube had already bowled two so the plan must have been to get in two or three quiet overs from Jadeja.
However, the second ball from Jadeja stopped and turned to get a return catch from Colin de Grandhomme. Ross Taylor soon saw the ball turning a lot. They were not going to take any risks against Jadeja now, who bowled quick and found turn, tying them down. When Williamson tried to hit out, he found deep fine leg. Even if New Zealand were looking for something around 160, Jadeja had now readjusted the par score. He ended up bowling all four overs without conceding a boundary.
Bumrah, Shami close out
The only time New Zealand found breathing space in the last 10 overs in Chahal’s 16th over when Tim Seifert hit a four and a six. It took New Zealand to 109 for 4, leaving them needing 10 an over if they were to get to the fighting total of 150. Not happening with Bumrah bowling two of those overs. What made it worse for New Zealand was excellent 17th and 19th overs from Jadeja and Shami. Since the ninth over, the only boundaries New Zealand managed were off that Chahal over and the one six in the last over.
Southee keeps New Zealand alive
New Zealand needed early wickets to make a fight of the chase. Southee provided them with an outswinger to send back Rohit Sharma in the first over, and with an edge down the leg side to remove Virat Kohli soon afterwards. Signs were already there that this was not an easy pitch to bat on. India 40 for 2 after six overs.
Rahul, Iyer weather the storm
Over the next five overs, New Zealand built up the pressure with the spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi conceding just one boundary. The duo, though, knew they had the asking rate in check: 70 required off 54 balls.
Iyer opens up, Rahul survives
In the 12th over, Iyer launched Sodhi down the ground for a dismissive six. The tide had begun to turn. New Zealand had to go back to the quicks. In the 14th over, Tickner had a golden opportunity to run Rahul out, but he missed from three yards. In the next over, the floodgates opened. The last 48 runs came in 21 balls.