Setting off in pursuit of 154, the opening duo of Rahul and Rohit added 117 runs in 13.2 overs to take the team to the doorstep of victory.
Rahul donned the aggressor role to perfection slamming fours and sixes with the utmost ease en route to an exhilarating knock of 65 (49b, 6x4, 2x6). Such was the ferocity of his knock that the usually belligerent Rohit chose to play second fiddle and only shifted gears once his partner got out.
Rohit struck 55 (36b, 1x4, 5x6) before being dismissed by Tim Southee. By then, however, the Kiwis’ fate was sealed and although Southee accounted for Suryakumar Yadav, the damage was already done. Earlier, India rode on a tight bowling display by the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel to stymie New Zealand’s explosive start and restrict the visitor to 153 for six.
Martin Guptill (31 off 15 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (31 off 28 balls) took the Indian pacers to the cleaners after being put into bat. Cruising at 64 for one in the powerplay, the Kiwis suddenly hit a roadblock in the crucial middle overs and managed just 64 runs from 7 to 16 overs with Ashwin (1/19) and Axar (1/26) dominating the New Zealand batters in the dew-laden condition.
The duo’s remarkable effort in the middle gave the pace attack some respite and newcomer Harshal Patel, who made his T20I debut four days shy of his 31st birthday, returned with impressive figures of 2 for 25.
Two days after his tidy display in Jaipur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded 37 runs from his first three but made it up in his final over, giving away just two runs and also taking the vital wicket of Jimmy Neesham that further pegged the Kiwis back.
Brief scores: New Zealand 153/6 in 20 overs (G Phillips 34) lost to India 155/3 in 17.2 overs (KL Rahul 65, R Sharma 55, T Southee 3/16)
Guptill is leading run-getter in T20Is
New Zealand opener Martin Guptill on Friday surpassed India’s Virat Kohli to become the leading run-getter in T20 Internationals. Guptill now has 3,248 runs to his name compared to Kohli’s 3,227. Guptill averages a little over 30 runs while Kohli is way ahead of him on that front with an average of 52.