A clinical 117-run opening partnership between K.L. Rahul (65, 49b, 6x4, 2x6) and Rohit Sharma (55, 36b, 1x4, 5x6) helped India record a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the second T20I here on Friday.
The full house at the JSCA International Stadium Complex cheered the home team to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
India made short work of the 154-run target, completing the task with 16 deliveries to spare.
Rahul and Rohit stayed in control from the start of the chase. Rohit
accelerated in the 10th over, bowled by left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, carting two big sixes. Rohit received a life in the same over, on 29, when Trent Boult put down a regulation chance at long-on.
Rahul then got into the act, smacking Adam Milne for a six and a four. The duo’s exploits brought the required run rate to below seven.
By the time Rahul and Rohit departed, India had effectively sealed the win.
Earlier, New Zealand frittered away a great start to finish with a sub-par score. Openers Martin Guptill (31, 15b, 3x4, 2x6) and Daryl Mitchell (31, 28b, 3x4) attacked pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar to propel the side to 64 for one in six overs.
From here, the visitor added just 89 runs in 14 overs. R. Ashwin, Axar Patel and debutant Harshal Patel tightened the screws, pulling the momentum India’s way.
The middle-order - Mark Chapman (21, 17b, 3x4), Glenn Phillips (34, 21b, 1x3, 3x6) and Tim Seifert (13, 15b, 1x4) - erred by taking an overly cautious approach. Jimmy Neeshan (3, 12b), expected to finish the innings with a bang, was terribly out of sorts.
Ashwin, just like he did in the first T20I, spun a web around the batters. Axar was typically stingy with freebies.
Harshal was the most impressive of the lot, showing no signs of nerves. The slower deliveries, which had brought him so much success in the IPL, were on full display here. Time and again, batters committed early and got tangled up in awkward hitting positions.
Mitchell, who lobbed a cutter to long-on, was Harshal’s maiden international wicket. Another cutter got rid of Phillips, who had only just begun to take on the quicks.
Guptill, meanwhile, overtook Virat Kohli to become the highest run-scorer in T20I cricket. He struck a couple of astonishing sixes off the speedsters, clearing his front leg and hitting golf-like tee shots to send the ball straight and far.
Dropped catches by Rahul and Venkatesh Iyer, which handed lives to Guptill and Phillips respectively, did not prove to be costly for India.