Rohit, Rahul shine as India pocket T20I series against New Zealand

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India extended its phenomenal two-way T20I record at home by winning a second T20I against New Zealand at Ranchi with seven wickets to break away with a undeniable 2-0 lead in the series. This is India’s 11th streak win of their last 12 and their fifth straight home win.

The series also marks the start of India’s preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year, and the hosts celebrated several big moments on Friday, following Harshal Patel’s successful international debut.

If Martin Guptill went up and crossed straight lines in the first serve, C.L. Rahul played some typically pretty shots to lead India’s 154-chance pursuit. In the second interception, hit by left pacer Trent Bowl, he relied on cover drive, then a check-of-drive was played to revive the crowd. But with Rohit Sharma on the other end, can a brand-name lucky shot lag behind him? In the fourth over, Sharma joined the game by taking Adam Milne’s short ball from out-of-bounds and placing it in the stands in front of the pitch.

New Zealand has returned to its full blown bowling attack, which played in the FIFA World Cup final last week. But surprisingly, none of their seamers pulled out ahead of schedule despite early innings evidence as India scored 45 runs in its first six overs without losing a single wicket.

Kiwi spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi managed to create some pressure, forcing India to go 24 goals no bounds. But in the 10th break, Sharma pulled off all of his hard work with two huge sixes, once pulling Santner’s long jump across the deep middle of the wicket before moving on to a slightly fuller pitch across the cow’s corner.

That was the end of it, as Sharma, aiming for the third maximum, almost got out of the hole, but Boult set a trap, overcoming a significant territory. The fielders struggled to grab the ball on the wet edge of the pitch, and with 16 runs pushing India’s score to 79/0 from the first 10, India was on the way.

Rahul, continuing his rich form, continued to find boundaries, beating off Milne by six. He dug up the yorkers and flicked them elegantly, getting the same result – each of his boundaries dropping Kiwi’s shoulders. Rahul 65 (49) and Sharma 55 (36) lost their wickets towards the end, but India had only to fulfill the formalities that they managed to complete in the 18th.

Early surrender balances the throw

It was always a rainy day in Ranchi. It wasn’t that the rain gods came here in winter, but the dew effect that was so intimidated was evident throughout the match. Rohit Sharma announced the shot again, but his bowlers and fielders had to pull out the towel very early on. The early dew meant that the throwing advantage would be balanced.

The ball was expected to slip away from the surface and Guptil decided to take a chance. On the way to his 15-ball 31, which helped him overtake Virat Kohli, who became the T20I’s top scorer, he smashed two sixes and three fours, breaking straight boundaries. Bhuvaneswar Kumar got a full mark for getting the ball going, but Guptila had all the answers.

He also fought Deepak Chakhar, but as in the previous match, CSK’s bowler got the wicket shortly after getting a six. Kumar had hit Guptila in the helmet earlier. Chakhar followed a clever short ball that resulted in Guptil’s untimely throw and Rishab Pant was smart enough to complete the catch. But Guptilla’s onslaught saw New Zealand snatch an early lead and, after a power play, escaped to 64/1.

India turned everything back using her twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Aksar Patel, who demonstrated clever bowling spells in the middle of the over. Struggling to grab a wet ball, both couldn’t afford to give it much air, but they used other tricks from the book to keep them in the game.

While Ashwin resorted to free use of balls for carrom and high-quality defensive bowling, Patel varied the bowling speed and length enough to make it difficult to cross boundaries. The total figures of the two spinners look like this: 8-45-2.

Harshal’s impressive debut

Harshal Patel announced his arrival in international cricket with something more than a slow retreat that earned him all the trophies in the last IPL. He forced rookie Daryl Mitchell (31) out of the game long-in 90 in the 11th half-time. Patel’s takeoff is a sham. All he does is slow, and to his credit, hitters are constantly trying their best to notice the deviation from his release.

The slower he plays, the faster he gets among the gates. His second wicket also came off a slower ball that was buried to cancel out another set batter, Glenn Phillips 34 (21) in the 16th over. He knocked out the more difficult 19th over innings, flicking the ball again at the last moment, and left in a six-lane flip. At 2-25, it was an impressive debut in front of the crowded Ranchi Stadium, giving India a reliable T20 bowling alley for the future.



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