Suryakumar Yadav’s hard-hitting innings followed by a sensational performance from the bowlers powered India to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the second T20 International and level the three-match series 1-1 on a spin-friendly pitch. Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, on Sunday. The low-scoring encounter also saw an unusual feat as not a single six was hit in 239 valid balls bowled during the second T20I.
The spinners roamed the nets and took the first five wickets of New Zealand, who were unable to find momentum throughout the batting innings. The Indian pacers then did a fine finishing job as the visitors were restricted to 99/8 in 20 overs.
Arshdeep Singh (2-7) was the most successful bowler for India while Yuzvendra Chahal (1-4), Kuldeep Yadav (1-17), Deepak Hooda (1-17), Washington Sundar (1/17) and Hardik Pandya ( 1-17) 1/25) also took important wickets at regular intervals.
Chasing a low total on a challenging pitch, India openers Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan took a cautious approach as New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner introduced himself and his spin partner Bracewell very early into the attack.
Both the spinners are not known for turning the ball much but despite this they made life difficult for Ishan Kishan. Shubman Gill, on the other hand, hit a boundary off Santner to ease the pressure but Bracewell removed him on a delivery a mile away.
Rahul Tripathi then joined Ishaan in the middle but things didn’t change much for India, who managed just 29 runs in the power-play. During New Zealand’s innings, Chapman was inexplicably run out and India suffered a similar loss when Ishan Tripathi was dismissed in similar fashion after a foul.
Suryakumar Yadav was the new man in and the New Zealand bowlers made it difficult for him as well. Like the Indian spinners, the Kiwi quartet of Bracewell, Santner, Sodhi and Phillips also bowled with discipline as India were 49/2 at the halfway stage. Although the score was low, New Zealand were not going to give up without a fight as they picked up another wicket in Tripathi to make it difficult for the hosts to chase down.
India then promoted Washington up the batting order to counter-spin with a left-right combo. It was successful as both Suryakumar and Sundar rotated the strike well and hit crucial boundaries. However, Washington lost his wicket in another unnecessary run out. The left-hander denied a tight single but Suryakumar just kept running and eventually, Washington decided to sacrifice his wicket.
Hardik Pandya was the new man in and India needed 27 runs from the last five overs with six wickets in hand. Both the teams were pushing it till the end and were playing a cat and mouse game with India needing 13 off 12. In the 19th over, Pandya finally managed to hit a boundary after 45 balls in India’s innings.
India needed six out of six and it was Tickner who came straight to bowl the last over. The bowler dropped Suryakumar in that final over when India needed 2 for 3 and the same batsman took full advantage of it.
Suryakumar, who shared an unbeaten 31-run partnership with skipper Pandya, hit his first four off his 31st ball, which also resulted in the winning run off the second last ball of India’s innings. Michael Bracewell (1-13), and Ish Sodhi (1-24) were the wicket-takers for the Black Caps.
Earlier, New Zealand won the toss and decided to bat first. Opener Devon Conway hit Hardik Pandya for a boundary in the first over while Washington Sundar bowled the second. Pandya came back for the third over and got a lucky boundary off Finn Allen, with wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan missing a difficult chance.
With the pitch assisting the spinners, Pandya brought in Yuzvendra Chahal early in the innings and the move paid off. Finn Allen (11), who was getting a little frustrated, looked to bring down a reverse sweep but with Chahal turning the ball, he failed to connect and was bowled.
After Chahal took the first wicket, Washington also took a wicket after dismissing Conway (11). The left-handed batsman, who had scored a match-winning half-century in the last game, attempted a reverse sweep but the ball went up after making contact with the gloves, only to be caught by the keeper. New Zealand are in trouble and have lagged in the power-play to post only 33 on the board.
Soon, Deepak Hooda was introduced into the attack and he struck immediately with another Kiwi batsman in the form of Glenn Phillips (5) attempting a reverse sweep. India’s spinners were in control of the game and it didn’t take long for Kuldeep Yadav to make an impact as he clean bowled Daryl Mitchell (8).
On a difficult surface dominated by the spinners, a run out was the last thing New Zealand needed. However, a lack of communication between Mark Chapman (14) and Michael Bracewell saw the former run out, leaving the Black Caps at 60/5 after 12.4 overs.
Thereafter, there was a brief 20-run stand between Bracewell and Santner, before Hardik Pandya brought himself on for the second and final spell to take the wicket. Bracewell gets a top edge and Arshdeep takes a near perfect catch at the fine leg boundary.
After waiting for a long time, Arshdeep came straight to bowl in the death overs and hit it immediately. Using the short balls to great effect, the left-handed batsman removed Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson in a single over. Eventually, fighting knocks from captain Mitchell Santner (19 not out off 23) along with Jacob Duffy (6 not out) took New Zealand to a respectable 99-8 in 20 overs.
Brief scores: New Zealand 99/8 in 20 overs (Mitchell Santner 19 not out; Arshdeep Singh 2-7, Yuzvendra Chahal 1-4) beat India 101/4 in 19.5 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 26 not out, Ishan Kishan 19); Michael Bracewell 1-13) by six wickets.