Hamilton, Feb. 10 (IANS): New Zealand defeated India by four runs in the third and final Twenty20 International (T20I) to clinch the series 2-1, here on Sunday.
Chasing the 213-run target, India could score only 208/6 in their 20 overs.
India suffered their first blow early when opener Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed by Mitchell Santner in the first over.
Rookie all-rounder Vijay Shankar and Rohit Sharma came together to add 75 runs between them before the former was dismissed after mistiming an attempted slog sweep off Santner’s bowling.
Shankar was the top scorer for India. He hit five boundaries and two sixes in a quickfire 28-ball innings that produced 43 runs.
The visitors were plunged into deeper trouble soon afterwards as Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma were dismissed in successive overs.
Rohit, who scored 38 runs off 32 balls, was looking good for a big score. But he went after a Santner delivery that was a bit wide outside the off-stump only to offer an easy outside edge to New Zealand wicket-keeper Tim Seifert.
Hardik Pandya smashed 21 runs off 11 deliveries before he was sent back to the pavilion by Scott Kuggeleijn. When Daryl Mitchell claimed the prized wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the next over, the Kiwis were well and truly on top.
Although Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya made a valiant attempt with a late 63-run stand off the last 28 balls, it did not prove to be enough.
Karthik remained unbeaten on 33 runs off 16 balls while Krunal was not out on 26 off 13.
For the hosts, Santner and Daryl Mitchell bagged two wickets each.
Earlier, a brilliant top-order batting display helped New Zealand post a big total of 212/4 in 20 overs.
Colin Munro’s 72 off 40 balls and Tim Seifert’s 43-run knock set up a perfect platform for the other batters, which helped them post a big total.
Apart from the duo, Colin de Grandhomme (30) and Kane Williamson (27) also contributed handsomely.
Put in to bat, New Zealand openers Seifert and Munro got off to a flying start, slamming 80 runs in just 7.4 overs before Seifert was stumped by Dhoni off chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. In his 25-ball stay, Seifert hit three boundaries and as many sixes.
Unperturbed by the fall of the opener’s wicket, Munro and skipper Williamson joined hands for a 55-run stand for the second wicket to help New Zealand get past the 130-run mark in 13 overs.
Just when things seemed good in the middle, Munro was dismissed by Kuldeep in 13.2 overs. He slammed five boundaries and as many sixes, which also included some beautifully crafted shots.
Grandhomme and williamson then tried to maintain the flow of runs at the same pace. But in the process, Williamson departed. The skipper was sent packing by pacer Khaleel Ahmed in 14.4 overs when scoreboard was reading 150 runs.
Despite the wicket, Grandhomme kept on playing his shots before his stay was cut short by pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the penultimate over.
Daryl Mitchell (19) and Ross Taylor (14) remained unbeaten and finished off the proceedings.
For India, Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav took two wickets, while Bhuvneshwar and Khaleel took a wicket each.
Brief scores: New Zealand: 212/4 (Colin Munro 72, Tim Seifert 43; Kuldeep Yadav 2/26) against India: 208/6 (Vijay Shankar 43, Rohit Sharma 38; Mitchell Santner 2/32, Daryl Mitchell 2/27).