Lucknow, Jan 30, 2023, IANS
A sensational performance by the bowlers followed by Suryakumar Yadav's hard-fought knock guided India to a nervy six-wicket win over New Zealand in the second T20I and levelled the three-match series 1-1 on a spin-friendly pitch at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, here on Sunday.
The low-scoring encounter also witnessed an unusual feat as not a single six was hit on 239 legal deliveries bowled during the second T20I.
Spinners spun the web and took the first five wickets of New Zealand, who never got the momentum throughout the batting innings. The Indian pacers then did a brilliant finishing job as the visitors were restricted to 99/8 in 20 overs.
Arshdeep Singh (2-7) was the most successful bowler for India while Yuzvendra Chahal (1-4), Kuldeep Yadav (1-17), Deepak Hooda (1-17), Washington Sundar (1/17) and Hardik Pandya (1/25) also picked vital wickets at regular intervals.
Chasing a low total on a challenging pitch, India openers Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan took the cautious approach as New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner introduced himself and his spin partner Bracewell very early into the attack.
Both spinners are not known for turning the ball much but despite that, they made life difficult for Ishan Kishan. On the other hand, Shubman Gill hit a boundary off Santner to ease the pressure but Bracewell removed him on a delivery that turned a mile.
Rahul Tripathi then joined Ishan in the middle but things didn't change much for India, who could score just 29 runs in the Power-play. During New Zealand's innings, Chapman got run out needlessly and India suffered a similar fate as Ishan walked back to the pavilion in the same fashion after his miscommunication with Tripathi.
Suryakumar Yadav was the new man and the New Zealand bowlers made things difficult for him as well. Like Indian spinners, the Kiwi quartet of Bracewell, Santner, Sodhi and Phillips too bowled with discipline as India were 49/2 at the halfway stage. Though the score was less, New Zealand were not going to give up without a fight as they picked another wicket in Tripathi to make the chase tricky for the hosts.
India then gave Washington a promotion in the batting order to counter-spin with a left-right combo. It was successful as both Suryakumar and Sundar rotated the strike well and even found crucial boundaries. However, in another needless runout, Washington lost his wicket. The left-hander kept denying the tight single but Suryakumar just kept running and eventually, Washington decided to sacrifice his wicket.
Hardik Pandya was the new man and India needed 27 from the final five overs with six wickets in hand. Both teams were pushing it until the end and playing a cat-and-mouse game, with India needing 13 from 12. In the 19th over, Pandya finally managed to find the boundary after 45 balls in India's innings.
India needed six from six and it was Tickner who came on directly to bowl the final over. The bowler dropped Suryakumar in that final over and when India needed 3 from 2 and the same batter took full advantage of that.
Suryakumar, who stitched an unbeaten 31-run stand with captain Pandya, hit his first boundary off his 31st delivery -- which also brought up the winning run on the second last ball of India's innings. Michael Bracewell (1-13), and Ish Sodhi (1-24) were the wicket-takers for the Black Caps.
Earlier, New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat first. Opener Devon Conway hit Hardik Pandya for a boundary in the first over while Washington Sundar bowled a disciplined second over. Pandya came back for the third over and Finn Allen got a lucky boundary, with wicket-keeper Ishan Kishan missing a tough chance.
With the pitch assisting the spinners, Pandya brought on Yuzvendra Chahal very early in the innings and the move paid off. Finn Allen (11), who was getting a bit frustrated, wanted to bring out the reverse sweep but with Chahal turning the ball he failed to connect it with the bat and got bowled.
After Chahal bowled a wicket-maiden, Washington followed it up with a wicket as well after he dismissed Conway (11). The left-hander, who scored a match-winning fifty in the last game, attempted a reverse sweep but the ball went up after coming in contact with the glove, only to be caught by the keeper. New Zealand are in trouble and have fallen behind in the Power-play to only post 33 on the board.
Soon, Deepak Hooda was introduced in the attack and he struck immediately with another Kiwi batter in Glenn Phillips (5) perishing while trying the reverse sweep. India's spinners were taking control of the game and it didn't take Kuldeep Yadav much time to make an impact as he cleaned up Daryl Mitchell (8).
On a tricky surface on which spinners were dominating, run-out was the last thing that New Zealand needed. However, the lack of communication between Mark Chapman (14) and Michael Bracewell saw the former get run out, leaving the Black Caps at 60/5 after 12.4 overs.
Thereafter, Bracewell and Santner had a brief stand of 20 runs before Hardik Pandya brought himself on for a second and final spell to fetch a wicket. Bracewell got a top edge and Arshdeep took a near-perfect catch at the fine-leg boundary.
After waiting for a long time, Arshdeep came to bowl right at the death and struck immediately. Using the short balls to great effect, the left-armer removed Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson in the same over. Eventually, skipper Mitchell Santner's fighting knock (19 not out off 23) along with Jacob Duffy (6 not out) took New Zealand to a respectable total of 99-8 in 20 Overs.
Brief scores: New Zealand 99/8 in 20 overs (Mitchell Santner 19 not out; Arshdeep Singh 2-7, Yuzvendra Chahal 1-4) lost to India 101/4 in 19.5 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 26 not out, Ishan Kishan 19; Michael Bracewell 1-13) by six wickets.