India triumphs in Trivandrum thriller

In a rain-affected 8-over contest, India’s awestruck bowling and fielding won the day as they clinched the T20I series against New Zealand.

Photo credit: Virat Kohli/Twitter

Greenfield Stadium in Trivandrum waited thirty long years for a glimpse of International Cricket. When the day finally arrived however, it was the monsoon that took the center stage. The jam-packed crowd had to wait longer. And wait they did. At the end of it all though, it was worth the wait as India won a nailbiting series decider by six runs against New Zealand and clinched the T20I series 2-1.

Earlier in the evening, persistent showers had delayed the start of the match. But Herculean efforts from the groundsmen and excellent drainage facilities allowed a reduced 8-over match for the final T20I game.

Kane Williamson won the toss again and invited India to bat first on a sluggish surface with the wet outfield. India got off to an unfortunate start with both of their openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma getting out cheaply, both caught by Mitchell Santner. The pitch, however, to everyone's surprise, turned from ball one which promised a low scoring encounter.

Indian captain Virat Kohli smashed a four and six off Ish Sodhi but perished in the same over in search of a big shot, when he was held out on the boundary. After the fall of Kohli, India lost a flurry of wickets trying to go too hard. Manish Pandey, who looked good with a couple of lusty blows was removed by an absolute screamer by Santner who divided full throttle only to lob the ball to Colin de Grand home, who completed a spectacular relay catch.

New Zealand continued their remarkable efforts on the field and restricted the hosts to a paltry 67 in the first innings.

India needed early wickets with the ball to make a match out of this one. Kohli’s trusted new-ball gladiators rose to the occasion with both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah picking up a wicket apiece in their opening overs. While Bhuvneshwar cleaned up Martin Guptill with a knuckle- ball, Rohit Sharma took a breathtaking catch to send back the dangerous Colin Munro off the bowling of Bumrah.

After the pacers, the Indian spinners joined the party. Leading the charge was Yuzvendra Chahal who bowled with immaculate accuracy and gave away just eight runs in his couple of overs. The 'Chinaman' Kuldeep Yadav’s over was a huge lift for India as well. The visitor's sheet anchor Williamson was sent back by a bulls-eye from Hardik Pandya from mid-on. In the very next delivery, Yadav foxed Glenn Phillips with a googly who mistimed one to Dhawan at the fence. With a Kiwi collapse on the cards, the match drifted in India’s favor.

New Zealand needed 29 off the last two overs. Virat Kohli made the right decision to bowl his best bowler in the penultimate over. Bumrah not only picked up a wicket but left 19 runs for Hardik Pandya who defended it quite easily in the end.

Thus ended New Zealand’s long but commendable vigil in India in limited overs cricket for now and just as their Trans-Tasman neighbours, even they had to go back empty-handed. For the hosts though, the final chapter of their marathon home series begins with a three-match test series against Sri Lanka but for now, Kohli’s blue brigade have got plenty to cheer for.

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