India defeat New Zealand by six wickets
If the wicket for the series opener in Ranchi had fair assistance for spinners, the one in Lucknow for the second T20I on Sunday was overtly spin-friendly.
India managed to cross the line this time, but not before a few hiccups.
Thanks to the composed, unbroken 31-run fifth-wicket stand between Suryakumar Yadav (26 not out off 31 balls) and captain Hardik Pandya (15 not out off 20 balls), India, after making heavy weather of New Zealand’s paltry 99/8, eventually reached the target with just a ball to spare to win by six wickets and restore parity in the series.
There was sharp turn right from the onset and batting ceased to get easier as the game progressed. Pandya minced no words to express his disappointment regarding the Ekana Stadium pitch.
“It was a shocker of a wicket,” the skipper said later. “I don’t mind difficult wickets. I’m all up for that, but these wickets are not made for T20.
“Somewhere down the line, the curators should make sure they prepare the pitches earlier.”
India made the right call of going in with an extra spinner in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal (1/4 off 2 overs), who replaced seamer Umran Malik. That paid off while the New Zealand batsmen too made matters easier for the Indians with their over-use of the reverse sweep.
Considering the fact that New Zealand made India take as many as 19.5 overs to reach such a small target, they could well have won the game had they posted a total closer to even 120. That said, two unnecessary run-out dismissals (that of Ishan Kishan and Washington Sundar) were also reasons for panic in the Indian camp.
However, the experience of Surya, playing an uncharacteristic knock, and Pandya calmed the nerves.
New Zealand couldn’t recover after their established batters fell to the reverse sweep. Their spinners too troubled India, but India’s batters rotated the strike better, which also made a difference.