India posted a competitive 179 for five against New Zealand in the third T20 International at Seddon Park, Hamilton, on Wednesday (January 29).
Opener Rohit Sharma top-scored for India with a 65-run knock off 40 balls while skipper Virat Kohli contributed 38 runs to the team’s total.
Rohit’s blitz included six fours and three sixes as he put on 89 runs partnership for the first wicket with KL Rahul (27 off 19 balls).
Rohit also achieved a milestone of registering 10,000 international runs as an opener while Kohli surpassed MS Dhoni to join the elite list of highest run-scorers as captains in the shortest format of the game.
This was after New Zealand won a third straight toss but opted to field, this time around. The hosts made one change with Scott Kuggeleijn coming in place of Blair Tickner. India remained unchanged.
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Rohit and Rahul then teed off immediately as New Zealand bowlers struggled to come to terms with the slow pace of the Seddon Park pitch.
Both Tim Southee (0-39) and Hamish Bennett (3-54) were taken for runs as the Indian openers unleashed a flurry of boundaries. India raced to 69 off the first six overs.
Rohit got to his half-century off 23 balls as he smacked 27 runs off Bennett’s second over. It was the third time he had scored a T20I half-century off as many balls, with his fastest coming off 22 balls against West Indies in 2016.
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Rahul though fell to Colin de Grandhomme (1-13) at the other end. Surprisingly, Shivam Dube (3) was promoted to number three but the move didn’t succeed. He was out after facing seven laborious deliveries, which also sucked momentum out of the Indian innings.
When Rohit too was dismissed off Bennett, pressure mounted on India as the team by then had lost three wickets for seven runs in a space of just three overs.
Kohli and Shreyas Iyer (17 off 16 balls) then tried to resurrect the innings with a 46-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Both hit a six each.
Iyer’s dismissal was the turning point, stumped off Mitchell Santner (1/37) in the 17th over. Two overs later, Kohli was caught at extra cover.
Manish Pandey (14 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (10 not out) pushed the score past 170 but India fell short of a 200-score, the openers had set up.
India lead the five-match series 2-0 after winning the first two T20Is in Auckland.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, K L Rahul (w), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Shami.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson(C), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Scott Kuggeleijn and Hamish Bennett.
(With inputs from agencies)