Colin Munro (109*) was the star of the show in Rajkot as the Kiwis registered a comfortable 40 run win against India to level the T20I series. After Trent Boult (4/34) had sent the Indian openers packing, Virat Kohli (65) and MS Dhoni (49) tried to lead the fightback but it proved to be irrelevant.
Brief scores: New Zealand 196/2 (Colin Munro 109*, Martin Guptill 45; Yuzvendra Chahal 1/36, Mohammed Siraj 1/53) beat India 156/7 (Virat Kohli 65, MS Dhoni 49; Trent Boult 4/34, Colin Munro 1/23) by 40 runs.
Winning the toss, Kane Williamson decided to bat first on a strip that promised a lot of runs. The visitors made two changes to the team that lost in Delhi, giving Adam Milne and Glenn Phillips a chance in the place of Tim Southee and the in-form Tom Latham. Mohammed Siraj got his first cap for the Men in Blue as he replaced the recently retired Ashish Nehra in Rajkot.
Opening duo give Kiwis a good start
Needing to get a good start in a must-win game, the Kiwi openers looked aggressive right from the outset as Martin Guptill and Colin Munro 24 runs in the first four overs. Guptill targeted Yuzvendra Chahal in the very next over as the Indian spinner conceded 17 runs which included two maximum and one boundary which helped New Zealand reach 48/0 at the end of the powerplay. After Guptill, Munro joined the action with two sixes in one over as he targeted the debutant Siraj in the eighth over of the game which helped the black caps to complete 50-run partnership - the first of its kind on the tour. In the search of the wicket, Virat Kohli handed the ball to Axar Patel who tried to control the run-flow by giving only four runs but failed to deliver the much-needed wicket. The duo added 11 runs to guide their team to a commanding position with the scoreboard reading 83/0 at the midway point of the innings.
Magnificent Munro help Kiwis put up a huge target
After an economical over, Patel gave away an astonishing 21 runs in the next as Munro sent two deliveries for sixes which helped him reach his half-century. Finally, in the 12th over, India got their first breakthrough in the form of Guptill’s wicket on Chahal’s delivery as a slog ended up in the hands of Hardik Pandya at long off. Munro, with his skipper at the other end, started taking the initiative and over the next two overs added 28 runs taking the score to 136/1 after 14 overs. After facing a boundary from Williamson’s willow, Siraj sent him back to the dressing room claiming his first T20I wicket. Having been given a lifeline early in the game, Munro was given yet another one as Chahal dropped an easy catch at point. Munro utilized the given chances gifted to him by going after the bowlers getting a boundary off Bhuvneshwar Kumar before getting a maximum off Siraj’s last over as he guided the visitors to 174/2 after 17 over. He didn’t stop here as he completed his century, his second in T20Is, in the penultimate over. However, Bumrah made sure that the nightmare of chasing a 200+ score did not come to fruition as he gave away just nine runs in the last over to restrict the visitors four runs short of a 10rpo chase.
Kiwi bowlers put India on the backfoot early
After a delayed start to the game due to floodlight issue, Trent Boult put the Kiwis in full control has he sent both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan back to the pavilion in just two overs as the scorecard read 11/2. Despite the early shocks, the Indian skipper, along with Shreyas Iyer, stabilized the innings scoring 24 runs in the next two overs which included five boundaries but that was negated by Adam Milne and Mitchell Santner who gave away just 5 runs in the next two to restrict Team India to 40/2 at the end of the powerplay. Kohli targeted Santner in eighth over of the game as he got two boundaries and one six helping India cross the 50-run mark. After his exploits with the bat, Munro showed his talent with the ball as he broke the Indian partnership dismissing Iyer for 23. Ish Sodhi then turned the game completely in New Zealand’s favour by sending Pandya back to the hut with a brilliant googly as India could only muster 71/4 at the end of the 10th over.
Trent Boult denies Dhoni-Kohli’s effort to level series
India needed 126 runs in the next 60 deliveries and with MS Dhoni and Kohli on the crease, it looked achievable. Both the Indian players showed their great skill of running between the wickets and ensured that the scorecard keep moving. Dhoni got his first six of the game on Sodhi’s delivery in the 14th over which was a treat for the Rajkot’s vociferous crowd. Although the required run rate pressure started taking a toll on the Indian pair, they tried to release it in the next two overs and added 16 runs to take the scorecard to 122/4. Dhoni’s brilliant presence of mind saved his wicket on the first delivery of the Santner’s third over, but he got the better of the Indian skipper, which ended Indians’ hopes of winning the game. In the penultimate over, Dhoni targeted Milne, but it was too little too late for the hosts. In the last over of the game, Boult not only grabbed the former India skipper’s wicket but also handed a 40-run defeat to India and levelled the series 1-1.