On Friday, India sealed its unbeatable 2-0 lead in the 3-match T20I series after beating New Zealand by 7-wickets. In Dhoni’s home ground, Rishabh Pant once again fired his brief cameo to prove himself an adept heir of the former captain and finisher.
Chasing down a subpar total of 153, India dominated the match the entire time with both bat and ball. The match was virtually over after opening duo Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul architected a 117-run partnership for the first wicket.
Rohit scored his 25th T20I half-century and equalled Virat Kohli’s record of most 50+ runs in the T20I. He hit one boundary and five over-boundaries to score a 36-ball 55. On the other hand, vice-captain KL Rahul once again traded severe damage to the Kiwis bowling attack with his 65 off 49 balls.
The New Zealand bowlers looked fairly off-tune in Ranchi making India’s run chase a comfortable one. Even the familiar nemesis Trent Boult was dismembered by the Indian batters. Only, Tim Southee (3 off 16) provided some hopes to the black caps dismissing Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav in the 16th over. He also picked up KL Rahul’s over two overs earlier.
Indian bowlers also owe an equal share of credit for this series-winning victory. Despite Martin Guptill’s (31 off 15 balls) frenetic tempo in the early overs, the spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel chocked the Kiwis in the middle overs.
Another Patel debutant Harshal Patel continued his IPL exploits in this match and bagged two wickets of Daryl Mitchell (31 off 28 balls) and Glenn Phillips (34 off 21 balls) who could have become expensive for India. He even grabbed the title of the Man of the Match in his debut match for India.
Captain Rohit Sharma did not hesitate before showering praise on the debutant after the match. “He’s done it many times, playing first-class cricket for many years, he knows what he wants to execute and is a very skillful bowler,” he said.
“Great effort from the entire unit. Wasn’t the easiest of conditions but the way we applied ourselves was amazing. We know their quality of batting, they played some good shots to start with. But I kept telling the boys that it is all about one wicket. But we showed great application and temperament to restrict them.”
Meanwhile, Harshal shared, “I couldn’t have asked for a better debut. The progress is gradual and slow. For someone like me who is not exceptionally talented, I had to build my game from ground up. I made mistakes and then found things that I can and cannot do well. It has been a great journey and has taught me many lessons which will hold me in good stead even after cricket.”
Having ensured the series win, India will now face New Zealand in Kolkata on Sunday with an aim of finishing the sweep.
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