Krunal Pandya got three wickets as India won a Twenty20 International in New Zealand for the first time. (Image credit: Twitter)
Rohit Sharma led from the front with a record-breaking display in the Auckland Twenty20 International as India finally broke their jinx in the shortest format by registering a seven-wicket win in Eden Park on Friday. The Indian cricket team skipper became the leading run-getter in this format and hit over 100 sixes, joining Chris Gayle and Martin Guptill. Rohit’s 16th fifty was his 20th fifty-plus score and he took Virat Kohli’s mark of 19. However, the wonderful batting display was backed up by a superb bowling performance from Krunal Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed as they restricted the Kiwis to 158/8, a total that was deemed sub-par considering the short boundaries at the venue.
Speaking after the end of the match, Rohit said the team had learnt the lessons of their loss in Wellington. “It's important to understand the mistakes that we made - it's been a long tour for everyone. So we didn't want to put a lot of pressure on the boys, just go in there with a clear mind,” Rohit said.
In Wellington, the bowling was put under the sword by the likes of Tim Seifert who smashed 84 off 43 balls. There were also vital contributions from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor as New Zealand struck a boundary in every over and maintained a run-rate of over 10. However, in Auckland, India took wickets at regular intervals. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the wicket of Seifert while Krunal Pandya’s three wickets in two overs and Khaleel Ahmed’s superb spell in the death overs changed the course of the match. Rohit acknowledged that the way the Indian pacers bowled played a crucial role in Auckland.
“Very pleased to see how we bowled, and we were quite clinical with the bat as well. We have quality in our side, but we executed our plans better today, after learning from our mistakes,” Rohit stated.
With the three-match series level 1-1, the series now shifts to the final game in Hamilton on February 10. India did not lose a series in any format in Australia and they will be determined to end their tour of New Zealand on the ultimate high with a win in Hamilton and win a series in New Zealand for the first time.
“It's going to be a cracker of a game in the 3rd T20I, but nothing to take away from New Zealand, they're still a quality side,” Rohit said.