India huffed and puffed its way to a last-gasp six-wicket win over New Zealand in the second T20I in Lucknow on Sunday. The win helped India level the three-match series 1-1.
On a pitch that assisted spinners, both teams’ batters found the going tough. New Zealand elected to bat, and stuttered to 99 for eight. With the required rate never a concern, India was happy to knock it around and take it slow in the chase.
Things got unexpectedly tight, with India needing 13 runs in two overs. Captain Hardik Pandya eased the pressure by flicking Lockie Ferguson for four in the fifth ball of the 19th over. Blair Ticker then took the ball, hoping to defend six runs in the last over. The speedster conceded just three runs in his first four deliveries before Suryakumar’s flat-batted smack over mid-off took India over the line.
Opener Ishan Kishan, struggling for form, crawled to a 32-ball 19. Shubman Gill (11) and Rahul Tripathi (13) struggled to get going as well. Suryakumar (26 n.o., 31b, 1x4) was forced to curb his natural attacking instincts, taking on the role of anchor.
The Indian bowlers stuck to the basics, keeping a good length and not giving any loose balls. There was no intent from the New Zealand batters, who kicked the can down the road.
When the Kiwis did decide to break the shackles, they took only one route - the reverse sweep. This shot led to the first three wickets - Finn Allen (11), Devon Conway (11), and Glenn Phillips (5).
Daryl Mitchell, who starred in the first outing with an unbeaten 59, was foxed by a Kuldeep Yadav beauty. Bowling from over the wicket, the left-arm wrist spinner got one to land outside off and spin viciously. Mitchell’s weak defence was breached, and the off-stump pegged back.
India was content to give four spinners - Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Hooda and Kuldeep - the bulk of the overs. They got a wicket each, and kept the run-rate low.
Fast bowler Arshdeep Singh was introduced into the attack only in the 18th over. Arshdeep did his part by scalping Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson with bouncers.
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