Ind Vs NZ: Rohit and Akshar shine, India clean sweep

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Captain Rohit Sharma’s scintillating half-century and useful contributions from the tail-batsmen and swashbuckling deliveries from Axar Patel helped India thrash New Zealand by 73 runs in the third and final T20 International here on Sunday to clean sweep the three-match series.

Rohit won the toss for the third consecutive match but this time he decided to bat first. India scored 184 for seven and then bundled out New Zealand for 111 runs in 17.2 overs. India won the first match in Jaipur by five wickets and the second match in Ranchi by seven wickets.

Rohit scored 56 runs off 31 balls with five fours and three sixes and added 69 runs in the powerplay with Ishan Kishan (29 off 21 balls) but Santner (3 for 27) brought New Zealand back after that.

In such a situation, Shreyas Iyer (25 off 20 balls) and Venkatesh Iyer (20 off 15 balls) shared a 36-run stand and contributed by Harshal Patel (18 runs off 11 balls) and Deepak Chahar (21 not out off eight balls). The team reached a strong score. Indian tail batsmen scored 50 runs in the last five overs.

New Zealand’s batsmen were seen peeping in front of Akshar (3 for nine runs in three overs). Martin Guptill initially scored 51 runs off 36 balls with the help of four fours and four sixes but it did not affect the result. Only three New Zealand batsmen reached double digits. Harshal Patel (2 for 26 in three overs) again showed his wicket-taking skills.

Deepak Chahar (1 for 26) dropped a waving catch of Guptill off his own ball in the second over but Rohit then handed the ball to Axar, who bowled brilliantly. Apart from the second opener Daryl Mitchell (five), he sent Mark Chapman (nil) and Glenn Phillips (nil) to the pavilion in the powerplay itself.

Guptill hit sixes on Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal (1 for 26) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to reach 37 for three in the first six overs. Rohit made changes in the bowling but Chahal was unable to show the fire on his return. After hitting him for a six, Guptill completed his half-century in 33 balls with a four on Axar.

Chahal, however, got him caught by Suryakumar Yadav at the boundary line in the next over. Tim Seifert (17) was run out while Rishabh Pant took a brilliant catch from Jimmy Neesham (3), leaving India’s victory a formality. Venkatesh Iyer (1 for 12) took the first wicket of his career in Adam Milne (7) while Chahar ended the Kiwi innings with a catch of Lockie Ferguson (14) off his ball.

Earlier, Rohit showed his intentions by hitting two fours in the first over of Trent Boult (1 for 31) on a pitch favorable for batting at his favorite ground. In the next over of his Mumbai Indians teammate, he sent the ball for six runs and then hit two sixes on Lockie Ferguson (1 for 45) to take the number of sixes in his T20 International career to 150.

In the playing XI in place of KL Rahul, Ishan meanwhile kept Adam Milne (1 for 47) on target as India reached a strong score in the powerplay, but then the spinners took the ball and turned the tide of the Indian innings. Santner took the wickets of Ishan, new batsman Suryakumar Yadav (zero) and Rishabh Pant (four) while handling the ball, the score was 83 for three.

The pressure was clearly visible. Rohit completed his 26th half-century in T20 Internationals by hitting a four at the third man in the third over of Santner. He scored more than 50 runs in this format for the 30th time and thus broke the record of Virat Kohli (29). Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (1 for 31), however, took a brilliant one-handed catch of him off his own delivery soon after.

The responsibility of getting India out of this situation was on Do Iyer. Venkatesh hit a long six in the midwicket area on Sodhi, but Boult caught him at long on after trapping him in a slow ball. Shreyas made the same mistake in the next over of Milne.

Lower down the order, Harshal Patel hit Ferguson for a six before being hit-wicket while Chahar hit two fours and a 95-metre six in the final over.

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