A very good bowling performance, combined with Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant’s batting efforts, helped India level the series, with one game left. While it was a redemption of sorts for Krunal Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal and Hardik Pandya failed to do that to increase India’s worries.
Rohit Sharma (9/10): After the disappoint of the Wellington game, the stand-in Indian skipper made up for it in the second with a 29-ball 50. In the process, he overtook Martin Guptill to become the highest run-scorer in the format, which speaks volumes about his ability. His captaincy was near perfect as well, bringing in Hardik Pandya to use the new ball before calling Krunal, who used the spread-out field in the middle-over, and that tactics broke New Zealand’s back.
Shikhar Dhawan (6.5/10): The southpaw was very much watchful from the beginning, and hardly shifted gears to end up with 30 runs off 31 balls. One would be wrong to blame him for that, given his partner Rohit was on full flow and India needed him to play the second fiddle to perfection. When he was dismissed, India
Rishabh Pant (8/10): The southpaw was promoted to bat at No. 3 for the Indian team and despite looking a bit scratchy in the beginning, he redeemed himself very soon and finished the job with 40 runs off 28 balls. While he struggled to find the right balance at the beginning, often leaving out balls which should have been hit and then hitting the balls which were not in the channel. But once he was set, he made sure to end the job for the team and that was clinical.
Vijay Shankar (7.5/10): What a package that Vijay Shankar is slowly turning out to be! Although the all-rounder didn’t bowl today, his direct throw from long-on to dismiss Ross Taylor was as good as it could get. While his fielding is a bonus, his batting is strong enough to command a place in the team in that merit only. He scored only 14 runs but hit a clear six and a four to state that he has it in him to play the role that the team demands at the time of need.
MS Dhoni (wk) (7/10): It is a good sign that Dhoni has completely done away with the rustiness that he had developed in the last couple of years. He was not fluent today but remained not-out to finish the game for the team. There is not a lot to write about the former Indian skipper today, and I am going with 7 today.
Dinesh Karthik (6/10): After enduring the type of game that Karthik had in Wellington, he would have thought himself lucky to find a spot for the second T20I. The worrying factor for him, however, was that he was nothing more than a passenger today.
Hardik Pandya (6/10): The Baroda all-rounder redeemed himself a bit, but again, that was restricted to bowling only, when he picked up a wicket at an economy rate of 9. However, it was a wicket tailor-made for him and he would have loved to go big, but unfortunately for him, he didn’t get a chance to bat.
Krunal Pandya (9/10): It was the kind of comeback they are always talking about. After remaining unlucky in the first game - when two catches off his bowling were dropped - the senior Pandya picked up three top-order wickets to break their back. Most importantly, he played without any fear - something that characterizes him in the Indian Premier League.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (7.5/10): One wicket to his name, but it was Tim Seifert of all people. The Wanganui wicket-keeper had blown Indian bowling to smithereens in the Wellington T20I, and Bhuvneshwar hadn’t really forgotten that. Instead of bowling those full balls, he bowled a short ball which held its line outside off, and Seifert was a goner. This was the kind of intelligence that has made the UP pacer a threat for the opposition.
Yuzvendra Chahal (5/10): A bowler who rose to prominence by playing cricket at Chinnaswamy, it is surprising that Chahal has struggled in both the T20s. It may have something to do with his flight which New Zealanders found it easy to dispatch. In Auckland, he conceded 37 runs without any real impact.
K Khaleel Ahmed (8/10): Khaleel Ahmed just epitomizes the basic nature of the game. He was the worst bowler in the first T20I, but his comeback was complete in the second when he bowled a near-perfect final over to restrict the Kiwis to 158. He also brought the swing back and was too hot to handle for the New Zealand lower-order.
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