Auckland, February 8: Mahendra Singh Dhoni watched from the 22 yards distance as his heir apparent Rishabh Pant showed spunk in a tricky situation, guiding India to their maiden T20 International victory on New Zealand soil here Friday.
The seven-wicket triumph was set up by skipper Rohit Sharma (50 off 29 balls) in company of Shikhar Dhawan (30, 31 balls) with a 79-run stand after Krunal Pandya got three wickets to restrict the hosts to 158/8.
With his whirlwind fifty, Rohit also became the top run-getter in the format, surpassing Martin Guptill.
“Very pleased to see how we bowled, and we were quite clinical with the bat as well,” Rohit said in the post-match presentation.
Dhoni, the original master finisher, couldn’t have been happier as he saw Pant control what could have been a tricky 159-run chase chase with an unbeaten 40 off 28 balls. The series is now tied 1-1 with the decider in Hamilton on Sunday.
With the former India captain (20 no off 17 balls) playing the role of a mentor at the other end, the 44-run stand was very significant as Indian cricket slowly moves towards a change of guard in coming days.
Pant’s one-handed six off Tim Southee or the bowler’s back drive off Scott Kuggeleijn to finish off the match were reminiscent of Dhoni’s best days. Pant hit four boundaries and a six in all.
Earlier, Rohit’s flicked six off Kuggeleijn over backward square leg was a treat for the eyes but his dismissal along with Vijay Shankar’s did create a bit of unrest. However, Pant ensured that they didn’t press the panic button.
The innings would certainly help him make a strong case for being included in the World Cup squad.
While bowling, Krunal enhanced his already growing reputation as a steady short format bowler with three important breakthroughs as India restricted New Zealand to a below-par 158/8.
DRS controversy sees Daryl Mitchell walk back in Auckland
The debate around the use of technology in cricket is once again out in the open after the third umpire failed to spot a supposed inside edge and gave Daryl Mitchell leg before wicket (LBW) during the second T20I between New Zealand and India in Auckland on Friday.
During the sixth over of the Kiwi innings, a Krunal Pandya delivery crashed into the pads of Mitchell and he was adjudged out by the on-field umpire. The batsman called for the use of Decision Review System (DRS) and hotspot showed there was big mark on the toe-end of the bat after the ball had passed it.
Despite this, out was flashed on the big screen by the third umpire Shaun Haig and the two batsmen in the middle — Mitchell and Kane Williamson — couldn’t believe their luck and were left absolutely stunned by the decision.
Even India skipper Rohit Sharma went up to the on-field umires to check as Mitchell had stayed back in the middle even after being given the red light. Finally, Mitchell made his way back into the hut, still unconvinced about the decision. (PTI/HT)