Dinesh Karthik hit a six off the last ball but New Zealand beat India by four runs in the in the series-deciding third Twenty20 International (T20I) in Hamilton on Sunday. Chasing 213, India took the match down to the wire but ultimately fell short by a whisker. As a result, New Zeland clinched the series by a margin of 2-1.
More than 400 runs were scored in the match as bowlers from both the sides were carted all over the park. Batting first the Kiwis posted an imposing 212/4. In reply, India kept at par with the run rate but the lack of partnerships hurt them. Vijay Shankar (43 off 28), Rohit Sharma (38 off 32) and Rishabh Pant (28 off 12) all came and went without staying long at the crease.
Towards the end, Dinesh Karthik, who remained unbeaten on 33 off 16 balls, along with Krunal Pandya (26 off 13) took the game into the last over. 16 off 6 were required off the final over, and the momentum was very much with India but Tim Southee held his nerve to restrict India at 208/6 as the Kiwis lifted the Trophy.
Earlier, India won the toss and invited the Kiwis to bat first. Exploiting batting-friendly conditions at a small Seddon Park, New Zealand cut the Indian attack to shreds from the start.
Opener Colin Munro produced a 40-ball 72 and shared an 80-run stand with fellow opener Tim Seifert (43) to lay the platform for a big score. Runs came thick and fast as skipper Kane Williamson contributed 27 and Colin de Grandhomme produced a crucial 30-run cameo off 16-balls.
The most successful bowler in the second T20I, Krunal Pandya, proved to be the most expensive bowler of the lot as he leaked 54 runs in his four overs. If not for left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav (2/26)’s tight bowling in the middle-overs and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/37 in 4 overs), India would have got a bigger target to chase.
The Kiwis kept a very healthy run-rate, racing to 50 in just 5.2 overs. There was no respite for the Indian bowlers as Daryl Mitchell (19) and Ross Taylor (14 off 7) helped New Zealand finish the innings strong by taking 61 runs in the last five overs.
But India were guilty of some exceptionally poor fielding. Butterfingers led to several chances being grassed. Colin Munro was dropped twice while the fielding in the outfield was equally abysmal.
New Zealand, on other hand, were brilliant in the field diving and saving runs. This ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides.
(With inputs from PTI)