India whitewashed New Zealand in the T20I series after clinching the third game by 73 runs at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
A floodlit Eden is a cricketing delight. And the return of fans, even though 70 per cent, injected fresh energy into an otherwise dead rubber. Every boundary and a wicket was cheered for irrespective of who hit them. The chants from spectators lifted the spirits of the Indian players as they negated the dew to dismiss the Black Caps cheaply for 111 inside 17.2 overs.
Chasing a target of 185, Martin Guptill (51, 36b; 4×4, 4×6) was the only Kiwi batter who asked questions in the powerplay. His stay on the wicket was cut short by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal who celebrated his comeback with figures of 1/26 in his four overs. Suryakumar Yadav caught the big man at long-on.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel caused damage initially by getting rid of Daryll Mitchell (5, 6b, 1×4), Mark Chapman (0, 2b) and Glenn Phillips (0, 4b) in quick succession.
Harshal Patel caught Mitchell at cover point, Rishabh Pant stumped Chapman while Phillips was bowled. The Kiwis could not recover from being four down for 69. Ishan Kishan executed two run-outs — that of Tim Seifert (17, 18b, 1×4) and Mitchell Santner (2, 4b) to push the visitor out of the game.
The Rohit show
After chasing in the first two games, India captain Rohit decided to bat first to evaluate how his players would react. He is known for his calculative approach, and it is no surprise that the star batter made the most out of the T20I series.
Rohit’s second fifty of the series (56, 31b, 5×4, 3×6) set the tone for the host. Kishan, who came in for K.L. Rahul, played a breezy 29 off 21 comprising six fours.
The captain smashed the first six off the innings in the third over. Left-arm pacer Trent Boult banged in short to find the master puller’s top-edge. The ball sailed over the shorter boundary. Lockie Ferguson conceded the other two sixes, including 20 runs in the sixth over as India finished the powerplay at 69/0.
New Zealand stand-in-captain Santner brought the Black Caps back into the game by getting rid of Kishan and Suryakumar in the seventh over. Kishan’s attempted late cut fell flat against the skiddy delivery. The ball touched his blade before finding shelter in Tim Seifert’s gloves behind the stumps. Guptill caught Suryakumar (0, 4b) at extra cover.
Rohit kept playing his shots all across the park and reached his fifty in 27 balls. He surpassed Virat Kohli by registering a 50+ score in T20Is for the 30th time. The batter also entered the 150-club of sixes. His caught-and-bowled dismissal in leg-spinner Ish Sodhi’s over marked a sad end to a flamboyant knock.
Shreyas Iyer (25, 20b, 2×4), Venkatesh Iyer (20, 15b, 1×4, 1×6) and later Deepak Chahar (21*, 8b, 2×4, 1×6) in the lower middle-order rescued India after Santner sent a bit of scare by getting danger man Pant (4, 6b) caught by Neesham at long-on in the ninth over.
It was a left-arm spinner’s day out as Santner and Axar picked up three wickets each. But India will be proud of Venkatesh’s performance. The Indian Premier League star for Kolkata Knight Riders, who possesses the same skill-sets as Hardik Pandya, picked up a wicket conceding only 12 runs.
This was India’s eighth consecutive bilateral T20I win against the Black Caps.
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