DE­NIED PER­FECT FIN­ISH

As New Zealand grab T20 series with 4-run win

The Free Press Journal - - SPORTS -

New Zealand de­nied In­dia a per­fect fin­ish to their highly suc­cess­ful tour Down Un­der by clinch­ing the T20 series 2-1 with a nar­row four-run win in the series-de­cid­ing third match here Sun­day.

In­dia savoured a his­toric Test and ODI bi­lat­eral series win in Aus­tralia be­fore record­ing their big­gest ODI series win on New Zealand soil.

A first ever T20 series win would have been an ic­ing on the cake but the hosts held their nerves to pull off a thrilling vic­tory. With Sun­day's re­sult, In­dia have lost their first T20 series af­ter win­ning nine and draw­ing one.

In­dia needed to knock off a stiff 213-run tar­get to bring cur­tains on a mem­o­rable three-month tour in a be­fit­ting man­ner but fell just short.

Ex­ploit­ing bat­ting friendly con­di­tions at the small Sed­don Park ground, New Zealand cut the In­dian at­tack to shreds to post an im­pos­ing 212 for four. Opener Colin Munro pro­duced a 40-ball 72 and shared a 80-run stand with fel­low opener Tim Seifert (43) to lay foun­da­tion for a big score.

Krunal Pandya was the most ex­pen­sive of the In­dian bowlers, bleed­ing 54 runs in his four-over quota. If it was not for left-arm Chi­na­man Kuldeep Ya­dav (2/26)'s tight bowl­ing in the mid­dle-overs and Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar (1-37), In­dia would have got a big­ger tar­get to chase.

In­dia cap­tain Ro­hit Sharma, who usu­ally bats ex­plo­sive in such sit­u­a­tions, made an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal 32-ball 38 and it also hurt In­dia's chances. Vi­jay Shankar (43 off 28) played a use­ful knock though at the top af­ter Shikhar Dhawan (5) fell early.

In­dia needed 16 runs off the fi­nal over and Di­nesh Karthik (33 not out off 16) af­ter tak­ing a dou­ble off the first ball, stunned the crowd and his team­mates by re­fus­ing to take a sin­gle in the third ball. Krunal (26 not out off 30) had reached the striker's end but Karthik did not run, send­ing his part­ner back.

This was af­ter um­pire did not give a clear wide bowled by Tim Southee.

New Zealand's Daryl Mitchell (R) cel­e­brates the wicket of In­dia's MS Dhoni

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