KL Rahul hit 65 off 49 balls as India romped to a seven-wicket win over New Zealand on Friday in the second Twenty20 to clinch the series.
Rahul put on 117 runs off 80 balls with Rohit Sharma as India scored 155-3 in response to New Zealand’s 153-6.
Rahul hit six fours and two sixes as he reached 50 off 39 balls. Sharma scored 55 off 36 balls, including one four and five sixes.
Their sparkling opening partnership paved the way for India’s dominant win at a dew-soaked JSCA International Stadium. The hosts took a 2-0 lead in the three-match contest. Rohit’s 29th half century in T20 internationals brought him on par with compatriot Virat Kohli, who is rested from this series. Rahul scored his 16th T20 half century.
“Think we did really well puling the game back after the first six (overs),” Rahul said. “We always give ourselves a couple of overs to see what the pitch is doing. When we’ve got off to a start like that and have 10 wickets in hand, then we decide we have to go after the bowlers.”
Rishabh Pant finished the game with two sixes off successive balls as India sealed the series with 16 balls to spare.
Stand-in skipper Tim Southee finished with 3-16 in his four overs.
Earlier, New Zealand finished with a below-par total after India put them in to bat.
Martin Guptill (31) provided another quick start with three fours and two sixes and put on 48 off 26 balls with Daryl Mitchell (31).
But the other top New Zealand batsmen failed to put up big scores the team went from 90-3 to 140-6 in the space of 18 deliveries.
Mark Chaman scored 21 off 17 balls and Glenn Phillips made 34 off 21 balls, with one four and three sixes. Debutant Harshal Patel finished with 2-25 from four overs. Ravichandran Ashwin took 1-19.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better debut,” Patel said. “It is another platform for me to come, perform and show my skills.”
Rohit, who began his captaincy reign with a series victory, was elated with how it panned out.
“Great effort from entire unit,” said Rohit. “It wasn’t the easiest of conditions but the way we applied ourselves was great. Under pressure, we know their quality as a batting outfit. I kept telling the bowlers it’s just about one wicket, if we get that we can put the brakes. We know the quality of our spinners and can always pull things back,” he added.
Rohit also praised the bench strength. “The bench strength, these guys have been performing consistently, so there’s pressure on the guys on the field. Important for me to give them freedom and the external things will take care of themselves. It’s a young team, a lot haven’t played a lot of games. Harshal Patel has done it many times, playing first-class cricket for many years, he knows what he wants to execute and is a very skillful bowler,” added Rohit.
Asked if there could be possible changes for the third T20I at the Eden Gardens on Sunday, Rohit said: “Haven’t given any thought to it, whatever suits the team moving forward we will try to do that but we want to make sure we take care of the guys who are playing first.”
India beat New Zealand by seven wickets.
New Zealand: 153-6 in 20 overs (Glenn Phillips 34, Martin Guptill 31, Daryl Mitchell 31, Mark Chapman 21, Harshal Patel 2-25) vs India: 155-3 in 17.2 overs (KL Rahul 65, Rohit Sharma 55, Rishabh Pant 12 not out, Venkatesh Iyer 12 not out, Tim Southee 3-16).
MOM: Harshal Patel (India). —AP
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