Rohit Sharma played two sensational knocks in one day as India defeated New Zealand in the third T20 International after a thrilling Super Over to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series in Hamilton on Wednesday.
This is India’s first ever T20I series win in New Zealand.
India posted a competitive 179/5 at Seddon Park after being sent into bat. Sharma top scored for India with a 65-run knock in that innings, that included six fours and three sixes off 40 balls.
But it was his two sixes in the last two balls of the Super Over that proved to be the match-winning moment as he helped India chase down 18 after the match was tied.
Skipper Virat Kohli contributed 38 runs in team’s total. His counterpart, however, overshadowed him with the bat as Kane Williamson smashed a 48-ball 95 but New Zealand faltered in the final over to take the match into the Super Over.
Needing nine runs of the last over, New Zealand lost Williamson and Ross Taylor to finish at 179/6 and tie the match. When Williamson got out, the Kiwis needed 2 off 3 balls. But Mohammed Shami held his nerve and bowled Taylor off the last ball with NZ needing one run.
Later in the Super Over, New Zealand scored 17, once again powered by Williamson, a target which India overhauled with Sharma smashing Tim Southee for two consecutive sixes. Jasprit Bumrah went for 0/45 in his four overs and then conceded 17 in the Super Over to cap off a forgettable night but Sharma made sure India finished on the winning side.
New Zealand capitulate
Chasing 180, New Zealand started well with Guptill (31 off 21 balls) and Colin Munro (14) putting on 47 for the opening stand.
Guptill smacked two fours and three sixes, but was also the first to go, caught in the deep off Shardul Thakur (2/21) in the sixth over. It became a double blow as Ravindra Jadeja (1/23) had Munro stumped four balls later.
Mitchell Santner (9) was promoted up the order, but it was Williamson who provided momentum to the innings with a timing and placement master class.
The skipper reached fifty off 28 balls, and then anchored the innings even as wickets fell around him.
Santner went cheaply, and then Colin de Grandhomme struggled but stuck around to add 49 runs with Williamson. New Zealand crossed 150 in the 17th over and were on course for a surprising win before a capitulation in the final over.
Earlier, Sharma came good after after missing out in the twin Auckland T20Is.
Sharma’s blitz included six fours and three sixes as he put on 89 runs for the first wicket with KL Rahul (27 off 19 balls).
This was after New Zealand won a third straight toss, but opted to field this time around. The hosts made one change with Scott Kuggeleijn coming in for Blair Tickner. India remained unchanged for the second game running.
Sharma and Rahul then teed off immediately as New Zealand bowlers struggled to come to terms with the slow pace of the Seddon Park pitch.
Sharma got to his half-century off 23 balls as he smacked 27 runs off Bennett’s second over. It was the third time he had scored a T20I half-century off as many balls, with his fastest coming off 22 balls against West Indies in 2016.
Rahul though fell to Colin de Grandhomme (1/13) at the other end. Shivam Dube (3) was promoted to number three but the move didn’t work out. He was out after facing a laborious seven deliveries, which also took the momentum out of the Indian innings.
The pressure told at the other end as Sharma was dismissed off Bennett as well. India lost three wickets for seven runs in the space of three overs.
Skipper Kohli (38 off 27 balls) and Shreyas Iyer (17 off 16 balls) then tried to resurrect the innings with 46-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Iyer’s dismissal was the turning point, stumped off Santner in the 17th over. Two overs later, Kohli was caught at extra cover.
Manish Pandey (14 not out) and Jadeja (10 not out) pushed the score past 170 but India fell short of a 200-score the openers had set up.
It was the third super over New Zealand have faced in the past seven months and they have lost all three after earlier going down to England in the World Cup final and then again in a T20I match in November.
The fourth T20 International between the two sides will be played on Friday in Wellington.
India: 179 for 5 in 20 overs. (R Sharma 65, V Kohli 38, KL Rahul 27; Hamish Bennett 3/54.
New Zealand: 179 for 6 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 95; Shardul Thakur 2/21).
Super Over: NZ: 17/0, IND 20/0.
(With PTI inputs)