NZ vs IND: K. L. Rahul hails ‘winning habit’ after T20 series sweep

The fifth T20I was the third consecutive game India had fought back in when New Zealand was in a position of strength.

Jasprit Bumrah played a big role in India's comeback; he ended up with 3 for 12.   -  Getty Images

India hailed its “winning habit” as it rallied to pull off a dramatic seven-run win over New Zealand in the fifth and final Twenty20 at Mount Maunganui on Sunday to sweep the series.

New Zealand looked on course for a consolation win until India engineered a collapse that saw six wickets fall for 25 runs with Jasprit Bumrah finishing with an impressive three for 12 off his four overs. It was the third consecutive game the tourist had successfully fought back in when New Zealand was in a position of strength.

“It’s a winning habit that we’ve cultivated over the years and all of us, when we step on the park, we want to win,” said K. L. Rahul, who ended up captaining India in the final game after Virat Kohli was rested and the original stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma limped from the field with a calf injury.

“It’s good to be standing here 5-0. Every time we were put under pressure and every time we felt there were no answers we came up with the answers and somehow squeezed the win.”

With teams building towards the World Cup later in the year, Kohli said India’s philosophy was to never give up. “The conversation we had in the changing room was always look at finding a way to win and that’s something we have been working on as a team and when it comes together nicely it feels really good,” he said.

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After India made 163 for three batting first, New Zealand appeared to be cruising towards victory with senior batsman Ross Taylor, celebrating his 100th Twenty20 International, leading the chase after a disastrous start.

Tailspin

New Zealand was three for 17 after 20 deliveries before Taylor (53) and Tim Seifert (50) put on 99 for the fourth wicket. When they smacked 34 off Shivam Dube in the 10th over — with two sixes and a four each, plus a single for Seifert and an extra run from a no ball — the momentum was firmly in New Zealand’s favour.

 

With 45 balls remaining, New Zealand was three for 116, but when Seifert was dismissed the innings went into a tailspin. By the start of the last over New Zealand had been reduced to nine for 143 and although Ish Sodhi belted two sixes, India retained control.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, India lost Sanju Samson for two in the second over. Sharma put on 88 with Rahul (45) for the second wicket and had added 42 with Shreyas Iyer before he was injured. Iyer was unbeaten on 33 at the close with Manish Pandey on 11.

Tim Southee, who led New Zealand with Kane Williamson injured, maintained that the margin between the two sides was not great despite the series outcome. “I don’t think it’s a massive gap. I know the series scoreline suggests that but the with the games being reasonably close it’s just doing those small things a little bit better,” he said.

The teams start the first of a three-match One-Day International series in Hamilton on Wednesday.

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