India clinch narrow win to level T20I series against New Zealand
In a low-scoring but thrilling encounter played at the Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow, India held their nerves to defeat New Zealand by 6 wickets in the final over of the contest to level the T20I series 1-1 with the third and final match to be played in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
After restricting New Zealand to a paltry total of 99/8 in their 20 overs, India had their own share of trouble with the bat with their top order cutting a sorry figure, but Suryakumar Yadav played a calculated knock of 26 not out from 31 balls with just 1 boundary and finished the game in the company of Indian captain Hardik Pandya, who was unbeaten on 15 from 20 balls with one hit to the fence.
It was a contest dominated thoroughly by spin bowlers from both the teams as fast bowlers did not have a lot of role to play with the pitch producing a lot of turn and surprise bounce that kept the batsmen quiet throughout the match.
After New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat, it was Indian spinners all the way with the Kiwi batsmen failing to find momentum on the challenging pitch. Finn Allen was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal for 11 while Washington Sundar got rid of the dangerous Devon Conway for a 14-ball 11.
Mark Chapman was run out for 14 while Glenn Phillips was cleaned up by part-time Indian bowler Deepak Hooda for just 5.
Daryl Mitchell, who had scored a quality half-century in the last match, became a victim to Kuldeep Yadav after scoring just 8 runs while Michael Bracewell could not find run scoring easy as well, being dismissed for 14 from 22 balls. New Zealand captain Mitchell Santner did well to guide the tailend batsmen till the end of the innings as the visitors finished at 99/8.
For India, Arshdeep Singh got to bowl towards the end of the innings but the left-arm seamer took 2 wickets for 7 runs from his 2 overs while the likes of Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Hooda and Kuldeep Yadav took 1 wicket each.
After a cautious start to their innings, India lost their in-form opening batsman Shubman Gill for 11 while Ishan Kishan, who looked positive in the middle, could not push beyond a 32-ball 19 which included 2 boundaries.
Rahul Tripathi fell after making 13 from 18 balls while looking for a boundary and was caught in the deep off Ish Sodhi. A horrible mixup between Suryakumar Yadav and Washington Sundar resulted in the latter being run out for a 9-ball 10, which compounded the pressure on the Indian team.
India did not press hard in scoring their remaining runs towards the end of the chase as they looked to keep the equation to a run-a-ball, and with 6 runs needed to win from the final over, batting star Suryakumar Yadav hit a boundary over mid-on to finish the proceedings and help a side level this T20I series.
India and New Zealand will once again meet in Ahmedabad for the third and final T20I of the series on Wednesday, February 1, following which the Kiwis will return home to take on England in limited-overs series while India will get busy preparing for their important four-match Test series against Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy starting on February 9.