Rahul, Rohit fifties help India seal the series comprehensively over New Zealand

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Photo: ICC

India clinch the series with an unassailable lead of 2-0 after a seven-wicket win against New Zealand powered by half-centuries from KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma.

Chasing 154 for a series win, India cruised along with the help of a 117-run opening stand between KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. 

Despite Tim Southee's attempt to rescue New Zealand with the ball, the total fell below par to make a match out of it in tough bowling conditions.

 Earlier, New Zealand started their innings with a flier, however, India bowlers at the death restored parity to restrict the visitors within achievable limits. 

Lethal opening pair 

New Zealand were put in to bat, and the opening pair of Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell ensured they were on track to post a competitive target with conditions suggesting heavy dew in Ranchi. 

Bhuvneshwar Kumar - bowling the first over - was taken apart by Guptill for 14. India did get an opportunity within the first over as Rahul ran back from mid-off in an attempt to send Guptill packing, but spilling out of his hands.

With difficulty in gripping the ball making life tougher for the bowlers, New Zealand openers made the most of it with a 48-run opening stand. Guptill batted clinically for his 15-ball 31, clattering 3 fours and 2 sixes before Deepak Chahar snared his wicket in the fifth over.

 The blow did not cap the scoring rate as much as India would have hoped for. The visitors finished the Powerplay with 64/1 as the in-form Mark Chapman joined Mitchell on the crease to keep the board ticking.

Ashwin, Axar steer India to safe waters

Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel bowled in tandem during the middle overs. In the second over of his spell, Axar got hold of Chapman's wicket who walked back looking to clear the long-off but found KL Rahul who swallowed the catch. 

Mitchell's stay at the crease was brought to an end by debutant Harshal Patel who got his man with a well-disguised cutter - Mitchell heaved it long-on where Suryakumar Yadav completed the catch. 

Glenn Phillips and Tim Seifert undertook the rebuilding but as the scoreboard pressure mounted, Seifert succumbed to Ashwin after the reverse sweep didn't go according to plan.

India pullback in the final five

At the fifteen over mark, New Zealand had the platform set for a big finish with 125 runs and seven wickets intact. However, a masterful display of death bowling architected by Patel, Kumar and Chahar allowed only 28 runs in the final five. 

Phillips' cameo of 34 off 21 balls came to end after he holed out to deep square leg off Patel's bowling. With runs hard to come by for James Neesham, Kumar's economical over yielded the wicket in the final ball of his spell -- edge and caught by Rishabh Pant.

The final 23 balls of New Zealand innings saw zero boundaries. The tremors were evidently felt on the final score -- New Zealand finishing with 153/6. 

Rohit, Rahul riot

The India openers meant business when they set up an opening stand of 117 runs. Rahul led the assault with a 49-ball 65 but it was Rohit in the tenth over who pivoted the impetus in India's favour. Rohit walloped a couple of sixes off Mitchell Santner's bowling - one over mid-wicket and another across wide long-on.

Rahul carried forward the momentum to up the ante with a floury of boundaries against Adam Milne and Trent Boult in subsequent overs. 

Southee rebels but Pant takes India home

New Zealand captain returned with a stand out performance of 3/16, snaring the all-important wickets of Rahul, Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav.

Rahul attempted to take Southee down but the deception of pace employed by the bowler meant the ball fell short of the boundary into the hands of the fielder at deep square leg.

Southee then picked Rohit with a slower bouncer who departed for 55 runs off 36 deliveries and Suryakumar (1) in the space of three deliveries. 

However, Venkatesh Iyer and Rishabh Pant took India over the finish line with seven wickets in hand and 16 balls to spare, courtesy of back-to-back sixes from Pant. 

The sides will play each other in Kolkata in the third and final T20I of the series on 21 November. E A PART OF



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