A splendid half-century from KL Rahul (57 not out) coupled with a valuable 44 off 33 from Shreyas Iyer helped India demolish New Zealand by eight wickets in the second Twenty20 International at the Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday. With this win, the visitors have taken a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Chasing a sub-par 133 on a tricky wicket which surprisingly was not a 200-plus track as was with the case in the series opener, New Zealand tightened the screws on the opposition denting them with two early wickets of Rohit Sharma (8) and captain Virat Kohli (11). Tim Southee had his name written on both the wickets. The fast-bowler first saw the back of Rohit on the last ball of the first over and then dismissed Kohli in the sixth over.
KL Rahul, who has been in the form of his life, then found an able ally in Shreyas Iyer as the duo forged an 86-run partnership. The duo played the situation well and in different gears. Rahul notched up his half-century, his second in a row, that just proved what a valuable team player the Karnataka batsman is with his wicketkeeping skills coming to the fore just recently.
India required 52 runs from the last 7 overs which is when Iyer broke the shackles when he launched Blair Ticker for a six and a boundary in the 16th over that took the game away from the Kiwis. However, he was unable to seal the game as he miscued a shot with Southee completing the catch over the bowler, Ish Sodhi’s head. Iyer departed for a brilliant 44 off 33 which was helped with three huge hits and a boundary.
Shivam Dube then wrapped up the match with a six on the third ball of the 18th over to trigger celebrations in the Indian camp. Rahul remained unbeaten on 57 — his innings decorated with three boundaries and two sixes.
Earlier, after opting to bat, the Indian bowlers tightened the screws on New Zealand as the Blackcaps were restricted to a modest 132/5. Martin Guptill top-scored with 33 off 20 balls, while Tim Seifert was unbeaten on 33 not out off 26 balls.
Guptill and Colin Munro (26) were unable to take off, but provided a measured start to New Zealand putting on 48 runs for the first wicket. Shardul Thakur then got rid of Guptill at the end of the Powerplay.
India then used the slow nature of the used-wicket to put brakes on the scoring rate. Wickets came at a regular interval as the Black Caps struggled to pull off big shots.
Yuzvendra Chahal (0/33) and Shivam Dube (1/16) combined well after the powerplay, while Ravindra Jadeja was the stand out bowler with figures of 2/18 from four overs.
The hosts were reduced to 81/4 in the 13th over when skipper Kane Williamson (14) became Jadeja’s victim, caught in the deep by Chahal.
Seifert then pushed the hosts to a decent target, something which wouldn’t have happened without his effort which included a four and two sixes. Shreyas Iyer walked off the field in the last over after hurting his left knee whilst fielding.
Both teams will now travel to Seddon Park in Hamilton which will host the third match on January 29 (Wednesday).
Brief scores: India 135/3 in 17.3 overs (KL Rahul 57*, Shreyas Iyer 44; Tim Southee 2/20) beat New Zealand 132/5 in 20 overs (Martin Guptill 33, Tif Seifert 33*; Ravindra Jadeja 2/18) by 7 wickets