India went down by four wickets to New Zealand in the thrilling second T20 International at Auckland on Friday to concede the series.

Needing a win to keep the series alive, India posted 135/6 despite being 72/2 after the first 10 overs as a shoddy batting performance by the middle-order saw Indian women lose the nail-biting match.

Jemimah Rodrigues slammed a 53-ball 72 that included six boundaries and one six but India scored only 63 runs in the back 10 to end up 20 runs short, which became their undoing. Besides Rodrigues and Smriti Mandhana, it was struggle all throughout for others as no other batter could manage double digit scores.

Chasing a modest target, New Zealand made a heavy weather of the chase before scampering home off the last ball of the match after losing three wickets in the space of 13 balls.

The Indian women had earlier lost the first Twenty20 International by 23 runs in Wellington.

“I think we should give credit to our bowlers, it wasn’t a good total but still they fought for us. We were 20 runs short, They played better cricket than us. We just need to learn from our mistakes and play better,” India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said after the match.

The White Ferns lost two quick wickets – opener Sophie Devine (19) and Caitlin Gurrey (4) by the seventh over with the scoreboard reading 40. But then Suzie Bates (62) and Amy Satterthwaite (23) joined hands and the duo stitched 61 runs for the third wicket to get New Zealand women back into the track.

Left-arm orthodox bowler Radha Yadav (2/23) and medium pacer Arundhati Reddy (2/22) bowler well for Indian women in the middle overs to take the match down to the wire.

Reddy, in fact, brought India back into the match with twin blows in the 18th over – first dismissing a set Bates and then accounting for Anna Peterson for a first ball duck to bring India back into the contest.

New Zealand needed nine runs off the last over and Katey Martin smacked Mansi Joshi for a boundary off the first ball to bring down the equation to five off five. Joshi, however, got her revenge by getting through the defence of Martin in the next ball.

But it was not to be India’s day as some sloppy fielding and sensible batting by Hannah Rowe and Leigh Kasperek took New Zealand home.

“We probably should have done that lot easier than what we did. But I am happy. Feels like it’s been a while since we won a series,” New Zealand captain Amy Satherwaite said.

Earlier, Rodrigues, with in-form opener Mandhana (36 off 27), added 63 runs for the second-wicket to lay the base for the total after the visitors lost opener Priya Punia (4) early.

When Mandhana and Rodrigues were at the crease, India were going great guns as the duo played fearlessly to put together 71 runs in 9.1 overs before the visitors lost Mandhana. Mandhana’s dismissal brought in Harmanpreet but the skipper didn’t last long and perished after scoring only five runs.

Rodrigues, though, carried on and registered fifth T20 fifty of her career but didn’t get enough support from the other end to take. She got out in the penultimate over while trying to go for big shots, stumped by Katey Martin off leg-spinner Amelia Kerr.

The third and final match of the series is to be played on Sunday in Hamilton.

Brief Scores

India women: 135 for 6 in 20 overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 72, Smriti Mandhana 36; Roesemary Mair 2/17).
New Zealand Women: 136/6 in 20 overs (Suzie Bates 51, Radha Yadav 2/23).

with PTI inputs