India beat New Zealand by six runs in a thrilling finish to win the third Twenty20 on Tuesday. Chasing 68 in a series decider reduced by rain to eight overs per side, the Black Caps were restricted to 61/6. India finished at 67/5 and won the three-match series 2-1, its first victory in a bilateral engagement in this format over New Zealand.
The persistent rain and a wet outfield delayed the start for almost three hours, but the sell-out crowd was given a treat at Greenfield International Stadium, which became the 50th venue in India to host international cricket. Stroke-making was not easy under the conditions and all the hosts could manage to put on board was 67 for five, featuring only seven boundaries, including three sixes.
The Indian pacers and spinners bowled their hearts out in a short but exciting contest. They were well supported by agile fielders. A wily Bhuvneshwar Kumar mixed it up nicely after being hit for a gigantic six by Colin Munro 7 while Jasprit Bumrah was splendid with his line and length. Bhuvneshwar cleaned up Martin Guptill 1 with a slower one while Bumrah saw the back of dangerous Munro. The early wickets pegged New Zealand back and they could never settle and eventually buckled under pressure.
The early wickets pegged New Zealand back and they could never settle and eventually buckled under pressure. Young leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal too contributed in choking the Kiwis, giving away only eight runs in his quota of two overs. Hardik Pandya bowled the last over with the Kiwis requiring 19 runs. A massive six by Colin de Grandhomme threw tension in the air for the home fans but Pandya managed to pull it off.
Pandya ran out Kane Williamson (8) with a direct hit, and Glen Phillips (11) holed out off Kuldeep Yadav (1/10) on the very next ball as the Black Caps were reduced to 28/4. The wickets of Henry Nicholls (2) and Tom Bruce (4) put the Black Caps in bad shape at 49/6. Nineteen runs were needed off the last over with Colin de Grandhomme (17 not out) and Mitchell Santner (3 not out) at the crease. But Pandya (0/11) bowled a tight line to win it for India.
Earlier, Both Shikhar Dhawan (6) and Rohit Sharma (8) struggled to time the ball, with Trent Boult having a perfect bowler-friendly platform to execute his skills. Kane Williamson handed the ball to Mitchell Santner to bowl the second over and the left-arm spinner surprised the Indians with some vicious turn. The Indian openers had no choice but to go after the bowlers and lost their wickets in successive balls from Tim Southee at the start of third over. Both of them were caught by Santner.