Xtra Time Web Desk: India bounced back strongly as they beat the hosts New Zealand by seven wickets in the second T20I in Auckland.
Krunal Pandya starred with 3/28 to keep New Zealand to 158/8 – largely thanks to a 77-run stand between Colin de Grandhomme (50 off 28) and Ross Taylor (42 off 36) – before a half-century from Rohit Sharma, which made him the highest run-getter in T20Is, set up India’s chase. It was India’s first victory in a T20I in New Zealand.
The hosts won the toss on Friday, 8 February, and, perhaps hoping to pile the pressure of a chase on India, opted to bat first. That didn’t go too well. Tim Seifert couldn’t replicate his 84 in Wellington, and was the first to fall, to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for a run-a-ball 12 in the third over.
Colin Munro fell for the same score, sending Krunal straight to Sharma at covers. Three balls later, Daryl Mitchell was trapped in front by the same bowler, and when, in his next over, Krunal had Kane Williamson trapped plumb off one that kept low, New Zealand were in all sorts of trouble at 50/4 within eight overs.
The pendulum then swung in New Zealand’s favour for a while. De Grandhomme and Taylor got together, and after picking the singles for a couple of overs, de Grandhomme let loose.
There were three consecutive boundaries off Yuzvendra Chahal – two sixes sandwiched by a four – and Krunal received similar treatment in the next over, smacked over mid-wicket and straight down.
Taylor was happy running the quick runs and giving de Grandhomme the strike. The all-rounder, at times, was fortunate that some of his mistimed shots fell in no man’s land, but his luck ran out after he brought up his half-century, off 27 balls, when he picked Sharma out at cover off Hardik Pandya.
In the four remaining overs, there was just one boundary, from Taylor. He was run out by Vijay Shankar, and Khaleel Ahmed, the left-arm pacer, conceded just five runs while taking two wickets in the final over.
India had done the first part right, but couldn’t afford a batting collapse like in Wellington. Crucially, their top two fired. Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan added 79 within 10 overs to make up most of the chase.
The two fetched boundaries of all of Lockie Ferguson, Scott Kuggeleijn and Ish Sodhi, with Sharma bringing up his half-century off just 28 balls. Along the way, he surpassed Martin Guptill to be the highest run-getter in men’s T20Is. Much like de Grandhomme, he fell soon after the milestone, sending one straight to deep mid-wicket off Sodhi.
Dhawan followed suit two overs later for a 31-ball 30 after his attempted pull off a nasty Ferguson bouncer rose high. Vijay Shankar managed just an eight-ball 14, and India were 118/3.
New Zealand couldn’t really take it deep and build pressure, though, with Rishabh Pant, typically, displaying his power. He hammered a 28-ball 40*, with MS Dhoni scoring a supportive 17-ball 20*, and the chase was wrapped up with seven balls to spare.