HAMILTON: Colin Munro’s explosive 72 set up a thrilling four-run win for New Zealand over India in a cliff-hanger finish to Sunday’s Twenty20 International in Hamilton, handing the hosts a 2-1 series victory.
India looked to be on the ropes when they needed 47 off the last three overs at Seddon Park. But Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya together plundered 32 off overs 18 and 19 before Tim Southee restricted the duo to 11 in the 20th.
“It was obviously touch-and-go there for us,” said man-of-the-match Munro whose whirlwind knock at the start of the match laid the platform for New Zealand’s 212 for four with India 208 for six at the close.
The morale-boosting victory for New Zealand gave captain Kane Williamson something to smile about after they were whipped 4-1 by India in the preceding One-day International series.
“It came down to the last couple of balls and it’s nice to come out on the right side,” he said.
It was a more sombre mood in the India dressing after Rohit Sharma had won the toss and defied convention by not batting first in a series decider, saying his team preferred to chase regardless.
“It was pretty disappointing to not get over that finishing line but I thought we fought really well till the end,” Sharma said. “We started off really well with the ODI series and we wanted to do well here with the T20.”
It was a vital knock from Munro, whose position in the New Zealand side ahead of the World Cup had been in question after a string of failures in the ODI and Twenty20 matches against India.
But he was on song from the start of the decider, charging down the track to smack Bhuvneshwar Kumar over the rope with the first ball he faced to kick off a flying partnership with Tim Seifert.
The pair raced to 80 in the eighth over when the lightning hands of MS Dhoni had man-of-the-series Seifert stumped by a hair’s breadth for 43.
Munro’s belligerence saw him face just 40 balls in his innings, flaying the bowling with five fours and five sixes. He was removed by Kuldeep Yadav when he skied a ball to Hardik Pandya running in from long-on.
Kane Williamson (27) fell in the next over when he pulled a rising delivery from Khaleel Ahmed to Kuldeep at fine leg.
Colin de Grandhomme chimed in with 30 off 16 to ensure New Zealand passed the critical 200-run mark for the second time in the series.
Vijay Shankar took an equally aggressive stance at the start of India’s chase and the visitors were up at the required run rate through the first half of their innings, but were unable to establish partnerships.
Rishabh Pant belted a four and two sixes with his first three scoring shots and raced to 28 off 12 before he became debutant paceman Blair Tickner’s first victim, swiping at a full toss that was caught at mid-wicket.
Sharma made 38, Hardik Pandya’s brief cameo produced 21 while Mahendra Singh Dhoni, feted as the master finisher, could only make two in a brief stay at the crease.
With the game slipping away from India, Karthik pounded the boundaries with 33 off 16 deliveries while Krunal Pandya made 26 off 13 but they ended up four runs short.
T.L. Seifert st Dhoni b Kuldeep 43
C. Munro c H. Pandya b Kuldeep 72
K.S. Williamson c Kuldeep b Khaleel 27
C. de Grandhomme c Dhoni b Kumar 30
D.J. Mitchell not out 19
L.R.P.L. Taylor not out 14
EXTRAS (LB-4, W-3) 7
TOTAL (for four wkts, 20 overs) 212
FALL OF WKTS: 1-80, 2-135, 3-150, 4-193.
DID NOT BAT: S.C. Kuggeleijn, M.J. Santner, T.G. Southee, I.S. Sodhi, B.M. Tickner.
BOWLING: Kumar 4-0-37-1 (1w); Khaleel Ahmed 4-0-47-1; H.H. Pandya 4-0-44-0; K.H. Pandya 4-0-54-0 (2w); Kuldeep Yadav 4-0-26-2.
S. Dhawan c Mitchell b Santner 5
R.G. Sharma c Seifert b Mitchell 38
V. Shankar c de G’homme b Santner 43
R.R. Pant c Williamson b Tickner 28
H.H. Pandya c Williamson b Kuggeleijn 21
M.S. Dhoni c Southee b Mitchell 2
K.D. Karthik not out 33
K.H. Pandya not out 26
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-11) 12
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 208
FALL OF WKTS: 1-6, 2-81, 3-121, 4-141, 5-145, 6-145.
DID NOT BAT: B. Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed.
BOWLING: Santner 3-0-32-2 (2w); Southee 4-0-47-0 (2w); Kuggeleijn 4-0-37-1; Tickner 4-0-34-1 (2w); Sodhi 2-0-30-0 (1w); Mitchell 3-0-27-2.
RESULT: New Zealand won by four runs to win three-match series 2-1.
UMPIRES: S.B. Haig (New Zealand) and W.R. Knights (New Zealand).
TV UMPIRE: C.M. Brown (New Zealand).
MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Colin Munro.
MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Tim Seifert.
FIRST MATCH: Wellington, New Zealand won by 80 runs.
SECOND MATCH: Auckland, India won by seven wickets.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019